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J Consult Clin Psychol. 1997 Apr;65(2):301-8.

Ineffective parenting and childhood conduct problems: the moderating role of callous-unemotional traits.

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


A sample of 6- to 13-year-old clinic-referred (n = 136) and volunteer (n = 30) participants was investigated for a potential interaction between the quality of parenting that a child receives and callous-unemotional traits in the child for predicting conduct problems. Ineffective parenting was associated with conduct problems only in children without significant levels of callous (e.g. lack of empathy, manipulativeness) and unemotional (e.g., lack of guilt, emotional constrictedness) traits. In contrast, children high on these traits exhibited a significant number of conduct problems, regardless of the quality of parenting they experienced. Results are interpreted in the context of a model that proposes that callous-unemotional traits designate a group of children with conduct problems who have distinct causal factors involved in the development of their problematic behavior.

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