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Background: Callous-unemotional (CU) traits are a risk factor for a severe, aggressive, and persistent pattern of conduct problems (CP). This study investigated characteristics that might differentiate children with elevated CU traits with and without CP in an effort to identify factors that may reduce the risk for CP in children with limited prosocial emotions. Methods: Utilizing a sample of 1,366 children from Cyprus, five groups were identified for further study based on latent profile analysis: low-risk (67.2%), high-CP/low-CU (7.9%), high-CU (9.4%), moderate-CP/CU (8.4%), and high-CP/CU (7.2%). The identified groups were compared on behavioral and social measures. Results: There were significant main effects of group for: impulsivity and executive functioning; parenting; and connectedness to school. The high-CU group had significantly lower hyperactivity-impulsivity and executive functioning deficits, significantly higher self-regulation, and their mothers reported more maternal involvement and positive parenting than those in the high-CP/CU group. Also, the high-CU group showed more school connectedness than those in the high-CP/CU group. Conclusions: These findings highlight several factors in the child and in his or her social environment that are associated with CU traits in the absence of serious CP and that may suggest targets for intervention for youth who may lack prosocial emotions.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

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Journal Article

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