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J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2007 Jul-Sep;36(3):319-33.

The development of callous-unemotional traits and antisocial behavior in children: are there shared and/or unique predictors?

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


Callous and unemotional (CU) traits have been linked to severe antisocial behavior in youth, but studies examining the etiology of CU traits are lacking. Based on prior research, it was hypothesized that childhood anxiety and parenting practices would interact to predict changes in CU traits over time. Hypotheses were tested using a sample of 120 moderate to highly aggressive fifth graders followed over a 1-year period. Although CU traits displayed moderate temporal stability and predicted increases in antisocial behavior, evidence suggested that these features were not immutable. Children exposed to lower levels of physical punishment showed decreases in CU traits over time, whereas higher levels of child-reported parental warmth and involvement predicted decreases in both CU traits and antisocial behavior over time. Lower levels of anxiety were uniquely related to increased CU traits for children who described their primary caregiver as exhibiting low warmth and involvement.

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