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Psychopathy and conduct problems in children: II. Implications for subtyping children with conduct problems.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa 35487, USA.



To test whether the presence of callous and unemotional (CU) traits designates a unique subgroup of children with conduct problems that corresponds more closely to adult conceptualizations of psychopathy.


A clinic-referred sample of 120 children between the ages of 6 and 13 years were assessed using parent and teacher ratings of CU traits, as well as parent and teacher report on a structured interview assessing oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and conduct disorder (CD) symptoms.


A cluster analysis of the ratings of CU traits and ODD/ CD symptoms revealed four clusters of children, two of which had high rates of ODD and CD symptoms. One of these conduct problem clusters also exhibited high levels of CU traits (n = 11). These children had a greater number and variety of conduct problems, a stronger history of police contacts, and a stronger parental history of antisocial personality disorder, despite being of higher intelligence than other children with significant conduct problems (n = 29).


The presence of CU traits with significant conduct problems seems to designate a unique subgroup of antisocial children who show a very severe pattern of antisocial behavior and who correspond more closely to adult conceptualizations of psychopathy.

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