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Dev Psychopathol. 2012 Aug;24(3):1091-103. doi: 10.1017/S0954579412000557.

Primary and secondary variants of juvenile psychopathy differ in emotional processing.

Author information

1
Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, Mental Health Law and Policy, University of South Florida, 13301 Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, MHC 2639, Tampa, FL 33612, USA. ekimonis@usf.edu

Abstract

Accumulating research suggests that psychopathy can be disaggregated into low-anxious primary and high-anxious secondary variants, and this research may be important for understanding antisocial youths with callous-unemotional traits. Using model-based cluster analysis, the present study disaggregated 165 serious male adolescent offenders (M age = 16) with high scores on the Youth Psychopathic Traits Inventory into primary and secondary variants based on the presence of anxiety. The results indicated that the secondary, high-anxious variant was more likely to show a history of abuse and scored higher on measures of emotional and attentional problems. On a picture version of the dot-probe task, the low-anxious primary variant was not engaged by emotionally distressing pictures, whereas the high-anxious secondary variant was more attentive to such stimuli (Cohen d = 0.71). Although the two groups differed as hypothesized from one another, neither differed significantly in their emotional processing from a nonpsychopathic control group of offending youth (n = 208). These results are consistent with the possibility that the two variants of psychopathy, both of which were high on callous-unemotional traits, may have different etiological pathways, with the primary being more related to a deficit in the processing of distress cues in others and the secondary being more related to histories of abuse and emotional problems.

PMID:
22781873
DOI:
10.1017/S0954579412000557
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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