Social Problems in Children: Exploring the Contribution of Triarchic Traits and Parenting


Social problems are transdiagnostically relevant in the development of various forms of psychopathology. It is thus important to consider contributing factors both at the individual and contextual level. Among 110 children (Mage = 8.85 years), we examined the contribution of triarchic trait dimensions (boldness, meanness, disinhibition) and parenting to the explanation of social problems. Using existing parent-report scales, triarchic scale-level representations were developed and validated. Significant main effects emerged for all three trait dimensions; meanness and disinhibition positively, boldness negatively, associated with social problems. Higher levels of disinhibition and meanness were associated with increased social problems in the context of higher levels of negative, or decreased levels of positive parenting; boldness acted as a protective factor in these contexts. Results suggest that the triarchic trait dimensions (1) can be studied in children, (2) act as risk and protective factors, and (3) interact with parenting to contribute to social problems.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Access options

Buy single article

Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.

US$ 39.95

Price includes VAT for USA

Subscribe to journal

Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.

US$ 99

This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3


  1. 1.

    Bornstein MH, Hahn CS, Haynes OM (2010) Social competence, externalizing, and internalizing behavioral adjustment from early childhood through early adolescence: developmental cascades. Dev Psychopathol 22:717–735.

  2. 2.

    Marshall HR, McCandless BR (1957) Relationships between dependence on adults and social acceptance by peers. Child Dev 28:413–419.

  3. 3.

    McCandless BR, Bilous CB, Bennett HL (1961) Peer popularity and dependence on adults in preschool-age socialization. Child Dev 32:511–518.

  4. 4.

    Renshaw PD, Brown PJ (1993) Loneliness in middle childhood: concurrent and longitudinal predictors. Child Dev 64:1271–1284.

  5. 5.

    Dodge KA, Lansford JE, Burks VS et al (2003) Peer rejection and social information-processing factors in the development of aggressive behavior problems in children. Child Dev 74:374–393.

  6. 6.

    Sanson A, Hemphill SA, Smart D (2004) Connections between temperament and social development: a review. Soc Dev 13:142–170.

  7. 7.

    Rothbart MK (2007) Temperament, development, and personality. Curr Dir Psychol Sci 16:207–212.

  8. 8.

    Miller JD, Lynam DR (2006) Reactive and proactive aggression: similarities and differences. Personal Individ Differ 41:1469–1480.

  9. 9.

    Findlay LC, Girardi A, Coplan RJ (2006) Links between empathy, social behavior, and social understanding in early childhood. Early Child Res Quart 21:347–359.

  10. 10.

    Strack F, Deutsch R (2004) Reflective and impulsive determinants of social behavior. Personal Soc Psychol Rev 8:220–247.

  11. 11.

    Calkins SD, Keane SP (2009) Developmental origins of early antisocial behavior. Dev Psychopathol 21:1095–1109.

  12. 12.

    El Nokali NE, Bachman HJ, Votruba-Drzal E (2010) Parent involvement and children’s academic and social development in elementary school: parent involvement, achievement, and social development. Child Dev 81:988–1005.

  13. 13.

    Denham SA, Bassett HH, Wyatt T (2007) The socialization of emotional competence. Handbook of socialization: Theory and research. Guilford Press, New York, pp 614–637

  14. 14.

    Latzman NE, Latzman RD (2015) Exploring the link between child sexual abuse and sexually intrusive behaviors: the moderating role of caregiver discipline strategy. J Child Fam Stud 24:480–490.

  15. 15.

    Belsky J, Bakermans-Kranenburg MJ, van IJzendoorn MH (2007) For better and for worse: differential susceptibility to environmental influences. Curr Dir Psychol Sci 16:300–304.

  16. 16.

    Belsky J, Beaver KM (2011) Cumulative-genetic plasticity, parenting and adolescent self-regulation: gene × environment interaction, parenting and adolescent self-regulation. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 52:619–626.

  17. 17.

    Patrick CJ, Fowles DC, Krueger RF (2009) Triarchic conceptualization of psychopathy: developmental origins of disinhibition, boldness, and meanness. Dev Psychopathol 21:913–938.

  18. 18.

    Patrick CJ, Drislane LE (2015) Triarchic model of psychopathy: origins, operationalizations, and observed linkages with personality and general psychopathology: triarchic model of psychopathy. J Personal 83:627–643.

  19. 19.

    Benning SD, Patrick CJ, Iacono WG (2005) Psychopathy, startle blink modulation, and electrodermal reactivity in twin men. Psychophysiology 42:753–762.

  20. 20.

    Esteller À, Poy R, Moltó J (2016) Deficient aversive-potentiated startle and the triarchic model of psychopathy: the role of boldness. Biol Psychol 117:131–140.

  21. 21.

    Patrick CJ, Durbin CE, Moser JS (2012) Reconceptualizing antisocial deviance in neurobehavioral terms. Dev Psychopathol 24:1047–1071.

  22. 22.

    Marsh AA, Blair RJR (2008) Deficits in facial affect recognition among antisocial populations: a meta-analysis. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 32:454–465.

  23. 23.

    Blair RJR, Colledge E, Murray L, Mitchell DGV (2001) A selective impairment in the processing of sad and fearful expressions in children with psychopathic tendencies. J Abnorm Child Psychol 29:491–498.

  24. 24.

    Brislin SJ, Yancey JR, Perkins ER et al (2018) Callousness and affective face processing in adults: behavioral and brain-potential indicators. Personal Disord 9:122–132.

  25. 25.

    Brent Donnellan M, Alexandra Burt S (2016) A further evaluation of the triarchic conceptualization of psychopathy in college students. J Psychopathol Behav Assess 38:172–182.

  26. 26.

    Venables NC, Hicks BM, Yancey JR et al (2017) Evidence of a prominent genetic basis for associations between psychoneurometric traits and common mental disorders. Int J Psychophysiol 115:4–12.

  27. 27.

    Yancey JR, Venables NC, Hicks BM, Patrick CJ (2013) Evidence for a heritable brain basis to deviance-promoting deficits in self-control. J Crim Justice 41:309–317.

  28. 28.

    Shannon RW, Patrick CJ, Venables NC, He S (2013) ‘Faceness’ and affectivity: evidence for genetic contributions to distinct components of electrocortical response to human faces. NeuroImage 83:609–615.

  29. 29.

    Latzman RD, Palumbo IM, Sauvigné KC et al (2019) Psychopathy and internalizing psychopathology: a triarchic model perspective. J Personal Disord 33:262–287.

  30. 30.

    Pérez-Edgar K, Reeb-Sutherland BC, McDermott JM et al (2011) Attention biases to threat link behavioral inhibition to social withdrawal over time in very young children. J Abnorm Child Psychol 39:885–895.

  31. 31.

    Kyranides MN, Fanti KA, Sikki M, Patrick CJ (2017) Triarchic dimensions of psychopathy in young adulthood: associations with clinical and physiological measures after accounting for adolescent psychopathic traits. Personal Disord 8:140–149.

  32. 32.

    Oliver BR, Barker ED, Mandy WPL et al (2011) Social cognition and conduct problems: a developmental approach. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 50:385–394.

  33. 33.

    Pardini DA, Lochman JE, Frick PJ (2003) Callous/unemotional traits and social-cognitive processes in adjudicated youths. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 42:364–371.

  34. 34.

    Hyde LW, Shaw DS, Gardner F et al (2013) Dimensions of callousness in early childhood: links to problem behavior and family intervention effectiveness. Dev Psychopathol 25:347–363.

  35. 35.

    Brislin SJ, Drislane LE, Smith ST et al (2015) Development and validation of triarchic psychopathy scales from the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire. Psychol Assess 27:838–851.

  36. 36.

    Drislane L, Brislin S, Jones S, Patrick C (2017) Interfacing five-factor model and triarchic conceptualizations of psychopathy. Psychol Assess 30:834–840.

  37. 37.

    Brislin SJ, Patrick CJ, Flor H et al (2018) Extending the Construct Network of Trait Disinhibition to the Neuroimaging Domain: Validation of a Bridging Scale for Use in the European IMAGEN Project. Assessment.

  38. 38.

    Latzman RD, Drislane LE, Hecht LK et al (2016) A chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) model of triarchic psychopathy constructs: development and initial validation. Clin Psychol Sci 4:50–66.

  39. 39.

    Goldsmith HH (1996) Toddler behavior assessment questionnaire. Child Dev 67:218–235.

  40. 40.

    McElwain NL, Holland AS, Engle JM et al (2014) Child–mother attachment security and child characteristics as joint contributors to young children’s coping in a challenging situation: child–mother attachment security and child coping. Infant Child Dev 24:414–434.

  41. 41.

    Appleyard K, Egeland B, Dulmen MHM, Alan Sroufe L (2005) When more is not better: the role of cumulative risk in child behavior outcomes. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 46:235–245.

  42. 42.

    Obradović J, Bush NR, Stamperdahl J et al (2010) Biological sensitivity to context: the interactive effects of stress reactivity and family adversity on socioemotional behavior and school readiness. Child Dev 81:270–289.

  43. 43.

    Berg-Nielsen TS, Vikan A, Dahl AA (2002) Parenting related to child and parental psychopathology: a descriptive review of the literature. Clin Child Psychol Psychiatry 7:529–552.

  44. 44.

    Aunola K, Nurmi J-E (2005) The role of parenting styles in children’s problem behavior: parenting styles in children’s behavior. Child Dev 76:1144–1159.

  45. 45.

    Frick PJ (1991) Alabama parenting questionnaire. University of Alabama, Alabama

  46. 46.

    Robinson CC, Mandleco B, Olsen SF, Hart CH (2001) The Parenting Styles and Dimensions Questionnaire (PSDQ)

  47. 47.

    Frick PJ, Kimonis ER, Dandreaux DM, Farell JM (2003) The 4 year stability of psychopathic traits in non-referred youth. Behav Sci Law 21:713–736.

  48. 48.

    Shishido Y (2017) Exploring the Unique and Interactive Contribution of Temperament and Executive Functioning to Parenting Behaviors. Georgia State University

  49. 49.

    McWayne C, Hampton V, Fantuzzo J et al (2004) A multivariate examination of parent involvement and the social and academic competencies of urban kindergarten children. Psychology in the Schools 41:363–377.

  50. 50.

    McLeod BD, Weisz JR, Wood JJ (2007) Examining the association between parenting and childhood depression: a meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review 27:986–1003.

  51. 51.

    Wills TA, Yaeger AM (2003) Family factors and adolescent substance use: models and mechanisms. Curr Dir Psychol Sci 12:222–226.

  52. 52.

    Rothbaum F, Weisz JR (1994) Parental caregiving and child externalizing behavior in nonclinical samples: a meta-analysis. Psychol Bull 116:55–74.

  53. 53.

    Hamner T, Latzman RD, Chan WY (2015) Exposure to community violence, parental involvement, and aggression among immigrant adolescents. J Child Fam Stud 24:3247–3257.

  54. 54.

    Zarra-Nezhad M, Kiuru N, Aunola K et al (2014) Social withdrawal in children moderates the association between parenting styles and the children’s own socioemotional development. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 55:1260–1269.

  55. 55.

    Rubin KH, Burgess KB, Hastings PD (2002) Stability and social-behavioral consequences of toddlers’ inhibited temperament and parenting behaviors. Child Dev 73:483–495.

  56. 56.

    Kochanska G, Aksan N, Joy ME (2007) Children’s fearfulness as a moderator of parenting in early socialization: two longitudinal studies. Dev Psychol 43:222–237.

  57. 57.

    Drislane LE, Brislin SJ, Kendler KS et al (2015) A triarchic model analysis of the youth psychopathic traits inventory. J Pers Disord 29:15–41.

  58. 58.

    Lilienfeld SO, Watts AL, Smith SF (2015) Successful psychopathy: a scientific status report. Curr Dir Psychol Sci 24:298–303.

  59. 59.

    Holzman JB, Burt NM, Edwards ES et al (2017) Negative (but not positive) parenting interacts with infant negative affect to predict infant approach: evidence of diathesis-stress. Infancy 23:471–480.

  60. 60.

    Achenbach TM, Rescorla LA (2001) Manual for the ASEBA school-age forms & profiles. University of Vermont, Burlington

  61. 61.

    Simonds J (2006) The role of reward sensitivity and response: Execution in childhood extraversion. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Oregon

  62. 62.

    Simonds J, Rothbart MK (2004) The Temperament in Middle Childhood Questionnaire (TMCQ): A computerized self-report instrument for ages 7–10. Athens, GA

  63. 63.

    Baumrind D (1971) Current patterns of parental authority. Dev Psychol 4:1–103.

  64. 64.

    Patrick CJ (2010) Operationalizing the triarchic conceptualization of psychopathy: preliminary

  65. 65.

    Aiken LS, West SG, Reno RR (1991) Multiple regression: testing and interpreting interactions. Sage Publications, Newbury

  66. 66.

    Lilienfeld SO, Smith SF, Sauvigné KC et al (2016) Is boldness relevant to psychopathic personality? Meta-analytic relations with non-psychopathy checklist-based measures of psychopathy. Psychol Assess 28:1172–1185.

  67. 67.

    Rubin KH, Coplan RJ, Bowker JC (2009) Social withdrawal in childhood. Annu Rev Psychol 60:141–171.

  68. 68.

    Rubin KH, Hastings PD, Stewart SL et al (1997) The consistency and concomitants of inhibition: some of the children, all of the time. Child Dev 68:467–483.

  69. 69.

    Shishido Y, Latzman RD (2017) Mother–son discrepant reporting on parenting practices: the contribution of temperament and depression. J Fam Psychol 31:398–408.

  70. 70.

    Goffin KC, Boldt LJ, Kim S, Kochanska G (2018) A unique path to callous-unemotional traits for children who are temperamentally fearless and unconcerned about transgressions: a longitudinal study of typically developing children from age 2 to 12. J Abnorm Child Psychol 46:769–780.

  71. 71.

    Dadds MR, Maujean A, Fraser JA (2003) Parenting and conduct problems in children: australian data and psychometric properties of the Alabama parenting questionnaire. Aust Psychol 38:238–241.

  72. 72.

    McDonald R, Dodson MC, Rosenfield D, Jouriles EN (2011) Effects of a parenting intervention on features of psychopathy in children. J Abnorm Child Psychol 39:1013–1023.

  73. 73.

    Loney BR, Frick PJ, Clements CB et al (2003) Callous-unemotional traits, impulsivity, and emotional processing in adolescents with antisocial behavior problems. J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol 32:66–80.

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Robert D. Latzman.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Green, L.M., Palumbo, I.M., Shishido, Y. et al. Social Problems in Children: Exploring the Contribution of Triarchic Traits and Parenting. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev 51, 151–162 (2020) doi:10.1007/s10578-019-00918-0

Download citation


  • Triarchic model
  • Parenting
  • Social problems
  • Social functioning