Date: 09 Jul 2010

Using the ASEBA to Screen for Callous Unemotional Traits in Early Childhood: Factor Structure, Temporal Stability, and Utility

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Abstract

This study evaluated a five-item screening measure of Callous Unemotional (CU) traits using items drawn from the Preschool Form of the Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment (ASEBA). Using data from the Durham Child Health and Development study (N = 178), confirmatory factor analyses demonstrated that CU items could be distinguished from Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Oppositional Defiant (ODD) items. The two-year stability (N = 137) of CU (ϕ = .84) was comparable to that of ADHD (ϕ = .79) and ODD (ϕ = .69). Three groups of children were selected based on parent-rated ODD and CU behaviors at the 36-month assessment (N = 37; ODD+CU, N = 7; ODD-only, N = 12; non-ODD, N = 18). Multiple measures of infant temperament predicted group membership with 84% accuracy. Consistent with Frick and Morris’ (Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology 33(1):54–68, 2004) hypotheses, ODD+CU and ODD-only children exhibited temperamental profiles in infancy that were consistent with low fear and emotionally dysregulated pathways into conduct problems, respectively.