People serving prison sentences have a
lower than average ability to read facial expressions or guess
what others are thinking and feeling, a survey of Scottish
prisoners has found.
Dr Louise Robinson, of the Royal Edinburgh
Hospital, told the International Congress of the Royal College of
Psychiatrists that new research has shown that significantly more
prison inmates were deficient in social cognition skills compared
to a control group of non-prisoners.
She told delegates: “We have shown that people
who are sent to prison find it difficult to make judgements as to
whether someone is angry or not.”
Researchers screened 2,457 prisoners in
prisoners across Scotland, and interviewed 128 of the prisoners. Dr
Robinson said: “We don’t know whether this deficit is something
people are born with or, as is more likely, is the result of a
range of problems that we found that prisoners suffered – such as
having a difficult childhood, drug problems and blows to the
The study also revealed showed that autism was
no more common in prison populations than in non-prison
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International Congress of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Edinburgh, 21-24 June 2010.