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Clin Psychol Rev. 2002 Jun;22(5):729-52.

Psychopathy in juvenile offenders. Can temperament and attachment be considered as robust developmental precursors?

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Centre for Research in Human Development, Concordia University, 7141 Sherbrooke West, PY-170, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H4B 1R6.


Attempts to predict adult psychopathy generally focus on aggressive and antisocial behavior exhibited in childhood and adolescence. Yet, children with conduct problems constitute a heterogeneous group, and many of the unique interpersonal and affective features associated with the construct of psychopathy only apply to a small subset of children displaying antisocial behavior. The current review seeks to derive an understanding of the specific precursors of the apparently amoral, affectionless, and self-centered orientation that psychopathic youngsters display towards other people. The focus is on the notions of temperament and attachment in early childhood, and their links to the emergence of moral emotions later in life. Based on a developmental perspective, the data currently available are examined, highlighting the insights gained from this body of work and outlining the conceptual and methodological challenges that still need to be addressed.

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