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Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev. 2005 Dec;8(4):291-325.

Child psychopathy: theories, measurement, and relations with the development and persistence of conduct problems.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195-1525, USA.


To develop more accurate explanatory and predictive models of child and adolescent conduct problems, interest has grown in examining psychopathic traits in youth. The presence or absence of these traits may help to identify unique etiological pathways in the development of antisocial behavior. The current review provides a detailed summary and analysis of (a) the conceptualization and measurement of child and adolescent psychopathy, (b) research on relations between psychopathic traits and a range of conduct problems and associated variables, (c) efforts to utilize data on child and adolescent psychopathy to delineate a subgroup of youth whose conduct problems share a relatively homogenous etiology and developmental trajectory, and (d) current challenges and limitations in the study of youth psychopathy and directions for future research efforts. Specific sections include the origins of the youth psychopathy construct, conceptualization and measurement, relations between psychopathic traits and conduct problems, relations between measures of psychopathy and measures of individual and contextual variables, efforts to identify a unique subgroup of children with conduct problems using psychopathic traits, and finally, challenges that face the field and goals for the next generation of research.

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