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Dev Psychol. 2003 Mar;39(2):246-60.

Callous-unemotional traits and developmental pathways to severe conduct problems.

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Department of Psychology, University of New Orleans, Louisiana 70148, USA.


One method for defining pathways through which children develop severe conduct problems is based on the presence or absence of callous-unemotional (CU) traits. This study investigated potential differences between nonreferred children (mean age = 12.36 years; SD = 1.73) with and without CU traits (n = 98). Children with conduct problems, irrespective of the presence of CU traits, tended to have significant problems in emotional and behavioral regulation. In contrast, CU traits, irespective of the presence of conduct problems, were associated with a lack of behavioral inhibition. Hostile attributional biases were associated with conduct problems but only in boys and in the absence of CU traits. These findings suggest that the processes underlying deficits in emotional and behavioral regulation in children with conduct problems may be different for children with CU traits.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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