Callous/unemotional traits and social-cognitive processes in adjudicated youths

Dustin A. Pardini, John E. Lochman, Paul J. Frick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

310 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: There seem to be two dimensions associated with psychopathic traits in youths: a callous/unemotional factor (C/U) and an impulsivity/conduct problems factor (I/CP). This study sought to clarify the nature of these two factors and examine their relation with social-cognitive problems in incarcerated adolescents. Method: One hundred sixty-nine male and female adjudicated youths were recruited for participation. Self-report measures and archival data were used to assess psychopathic traits, emotional distress, behavioral dysregulation, social-cognitive processes, and delinquency severity. Results: Analyses demonstrated that the I/CP factor is associated with increased levels of dysregulated behavior, while the C/U dimension is related to deficits in empathy. The two factors exhibited differential relations with measures of emotional distress and tearfulness. C/U traits were associated with an increased focus on the positive aspects of aggression and a decreased focus on the negative aspects of hostile acts. Findings remained after controlling for demographic characteristics, abuse history, intellectual abilities, and delinquency severity. Conclusions: Results provide support for the two-dimensional nature of psychopathy in youths and suggest that C/U traits are associated with lower emotional distress and a specific social information-processing pattern. The potential implications for working with adjudicated youths exhibiting C/U traits are noted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)364-371
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Volume42
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2003
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Adolescent
  • Delinquency
  • Psychopathy
  • Social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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