Ray, J. V, Frick, P., Thornton, L., Wall Myers, T. D, Steinberg, L. & Cauffman, E. (2019). Estimating and predicting the course of callous-unemotional traits in first-time adolescent offenders. Developmental Psychology,55(8), E. F. Dubow. 1709-1719. United States of America: American Psychological Association Inc.. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0000748
The stability of callous-unemotional (CU) traits and both individual and contextual factors that influence this stability have been studied in community adolescent samples but not to great extent in adolescents who have been arrested. We estimated the developmental changes in CU traits measured over the course of 36 months (6-month intervals) following the first arrest of male adolescents (N = 1,216). Using latent growth curve modeling and the multiple cohort multiple group method to account for the accelerated cohort study design, we were able to estimate the degree of change in these traits from ages 13 to 20 years. Overall in the sample, CU traits showed a moderate level of stability, similar to what has been reported in community samples, as well as an overall decline at older ages. Whether the adolescent was formally processed after first arrest (positively) and intelligence (negatively) was related to high levels of CU traits at arrest but unrelated to changes over time. Impulse control and maternal warmth showed consistent negative associations whereas self-reported offending, neighborhood disorganization, and association with delinquent peers showed consistent positive associations with CU traits over time. These findings support the importance of these variables for understanding the level and course of CU traits in justice-involved adolescents and provide potential targets for interventions implemented to reduce these traits in justice-involved adolescents.
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