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J Abnorm Child Psychol. 1999 Oct;27(5):383-92.

The association between anxiety and psychopathy dimensions in children.

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Department of Psychology, University of New Orleans, Louisiana 20148, USA.


Although several theoretical models posit that low levels of anxiety are a risk factor for psychopathy and antisocial behavior, a number of studies have reported elevated levels of anxiety among antisocial individuals. Nevertheless, most investigators in this literature have not distinguished between fearfulness and trait anxiety or attempted to separate the antisocial lifestyle dimension from the callous and unemotional dimension of psychopathy. In a study of clinically referred children (N = 143), we found that (a) measures of trait anxiety and fearlessness (low fearfulness) exhibited low correlations; (b) conduct problems tended to be positively correlated with trait anxiety, whereas callous and unemotional traits tended to be negatively correlated with trait anxiety; and (c) controlling statistically for the effects of one dimension increased the divergent correlations of the other dimension with both trait anxiety and fearful inhibition. These findings bear potentially important implications for the diagnosis and etiology of psychopathy and antisocial behavior and suggest that distinctions between trait anxiety and fearful inhibition, as well as between the two dimensions of psychopathy, may help to clarify longstanding confusion in this literature.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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