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Callous-unemotional traits only versus the multidimensional psychopathy construct as predictors of various antisocial outcomes during early adolescence

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-25
JournalJournal of psychopathology and behavioral assessment
Issue number1
Early online date9 Mar 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Mar 2018


The aim of this study was to compare callous-unemotional (CU) traits versus the multidimensional psychopathy construct in their ability to predict future and stable antisocial behavior. At baseline, a community sample of 996 Cypriot 12-year old adolescents (52% girls) completed measures that tap conduct problems (CP) and psychopathic traits, including CU. CP, aggression, and substance use were self-reported at 1–3 year follow-ups. Youths were assigned to six mutually exclusive groups based on their baseline levels of CP and psychopathic traits. Youth with CP scoring high on all three psychopathic traits dimensions (Psychopathic Personality + CP) showed the most robust and highest risk for future and stable CP, aggression, and substance use, followed by youth who were high on all three psychopathic traits dimensions but displayed no concurrent CP (Psychopathic Personality Only) and CP youth with low levels of psychopathic traits (CP Only). Youth with CP who merely manifested callous-unemotional traits (Callous-Unemotional + CP) were only at risk for future CP. The findings suggest that the CU traits-based approach for subtyping children with CP is less informative compared to a subtyping approach using various psychopathic traits dimensions in predicting future and stable forms of various antisocial outcomes. These findings and their consistency with prior work indicate the need for additional research to examine the various psychopathic traits dimensions rather than focusing solely on CU traits, especially for CP subtyping purposes.

    Research areas

  • callous-unemotional traits , conduct problems, psychopathic traits , aggression, substance use

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