Disinhibited reactive attachment disorder symptoms impair social judgements from faces.


Typically developing adults and children can rapidly reach consensus regarding the trustworthiness of unfamiliar faces. Maltreated children can have problems with trusting others, yet those with the disinhibited form of reactive attachment disorder (dRAD) can be indiscriminately friendly. Whether children with dRAD symptoms appraise and conform to typical judgements about trustworthiness of faces is still unknown. We recorded eye movements of 10 maltreated dRAD children and 10 age and gender matched typically developing control children while they made social judgements from faces. Children were presented with a series of pairs of faces previously judged by adults to have high or low attractiveness or trustworthiness ratings. Typically developing children reached a consensus regarding which faces were the most trustworthy and attractive. There was less agreement among the children with dRAD symptoms. Judgments from the typically developing children showed a strong correlation between the attractiveness and trustworthiness tasks. This was not the case for the dRAD group, who showed less agreement and no significant correlation between trustworthiness and attractiveness judgments. Finally, both groups of children sampled the eye region to perform social judgments. Our data offer a unique insight in children with dRAD symptoms, providing novel and important knowledge for their rehabilitation.