Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 42, Issue 7, pp 1141–1151 | Cite as

Bidirectional Associations Between Parenting Behavior and Child Callous-Unemotional Traits: Does Parental Depression Moderate this Link?

  • Amber Wimsatt ChildsEmail author
  • Paula J. Fite
  • Todd M. Moore
  • John E. Lochman
  • Dustin A. Pardini


The current study longitudinally examined bidirectional associations between callous-unemotional (CU) traits and parenting dimensions. This study extended the literature by examining whether parental depression moderated these relations in a pre-adolescent sample. Proposed relations were examined using a longitudinal sample of 120 aggressive children (59.6 % male) who were in the 4th grade (M = 10.56 years, SD = 0.56) at baseline and were followed annually over 4 years. A series of generalized estimating equation (GEE) models were used to examine proposed relations. At the first order level, corporal punishment (p < . 001) and poor supervision/monitoring predicted increases in CU traits (p = 0.03) however, the inverse relations were not found. Importantly, parental depression moderated the link between corporal punishment and CU traits. Specifically, at high levels of depression, corporal punishment was predictive of increases in CU traits, but was unrelated to CU traits at low levels of depression. These findings aid in our understanding of the link between corporal punishment and CU traits by highlighting conditions under which certain parenting behaviors have an impact on CU traits, which in turn, may have important intervention implications. Further clinical implications, limitations and future directions are discussed.


Child Callous-unemotional traits Parenting behavior Bidirectionality Parental depression 



The authors would like to acknowledge the following sources of funding that contributed to data collection: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (R49nCCR418569), National Institute of Drug Abuse (DA08453; DA16135) and the WT Grant Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amber Wimsatt Childs
    • 1
    Email author
  • Paula J. Fite
    • 2
  • Todd M. Moore
    • 1
  • John E. Lochman
    • 3
  • Dustin A. Pardini
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  2. 2.University of KansasLawrenceUSA
  3. 3.University of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA
  4. 4.University of Pittsburgh Medical CenterPittsburghUSA

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