Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 461–470 | Cite as

Deficient Behavioral Inhibition and Anomalous Selective Attention in a Community Sample of Adolescents with Psychopathic Traits and Low-Anxiety Traits

  • Jennifer E. VitaleEmail author
  • Joseph P. Newman
  • John E. Bates
  • Jackson Goodnight
  • Kenneth A. Dodge
  • Gregory S. Pettit


Socialization is the important process by which individuals learn and then effectively apply the rules of appropriate societal behavior. Response modulation is a psychobiological process theorized to aid in socialization by allowing individuals to utilize contextual information to modify ongoing behavior appropriately. Using Hare’s (1991) Psychopathy Checklist and the Welsh (1956) anxiety scale, researchers have identified a relatively specific form of a response modulation deficit in low-anxious, Caucasian psychopaths. Preliminary evidence suggests that the Antisocial Process Screening Device (APSD; Frick & Hare, 2001) may be used to identify children with a similar vulnerability. Using a representative community sample of 308 16-year-olds from the Child Development Project (Dodge, Bates, & Pettit, 1990), we tested and corroborated the hypotheses that participants with relatively low anxiety and high APSD scores would display poorer passive avoidance learning and less interference on a spatially separated, picture-word Stroop task than controls. Consistent with hypotheses, the expected group differences in picture-word Stroop interference were found with male and female participants, whereas predicted differences in passive avoidance were specific to male participants. To the extent that response modulation deficits contributing to poor socialization among psychopathic adult offenders also characterize a subgroup of adolescents with mild conduct problems, clarification of the developmental processes that moderate the expression of this vulnerability could inform early interventions.


response modulation psychopathy adolescents socialization 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer E. Vitale
    • 1
    • 6
    Email author
  • Joseph P. Newman
    • 2
  • John E. Bates
    • 3
  • Jackson Goodnight
    • 3
  • Kenneth A. Dodge
    • 4
  • Gregory S. Pettit
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyHampden-Sydney College
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyIndiana University
  4. 4.Center for Child and Family PolicyDuke University
  5. 5.Department of Human Development and Family StudiesAuburn University
  6. 6.Department of PsychologyHampden-Sydney CollegeHampden-Sydney

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