Child Psychiatry & Human Development

, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 331–340 | Cite as

Self Regulation, Cognitive Capacity and Risk Taking: Investigating Heterogeneity Among Adolescents with Callous-Unemotional Traits

  • Maria-Zoe Hadjicharalambous
  • Kostas A. Fanti
Original Article


The majority of prior work focuses on understanding the association between callous-unemotional (CU) traits and conduct problems, providing limited information on why some youth who score high on CU traits do not engage in conduct problem behaviors. The current study investigated heterogeneity among a sub-sample of adolescents with CU traits (N = 152; Mage = 13.09, SD = 2.76, 45.6% female) identified from a large community sample. Three groups were compared: control, callous-unemotional traits only (CU-only), and combined callous-unemotional and conduct problems (CU + CP). Participants were administered a battery of neuropsychological computerized tasks assessing risk taking, self-regulation and cognitive capacity. Results indicated that youth high on CU traits and low on CP scored higher on self-regulation and were less likely to make risky decisions compared to youth with combined CU + CP. In general, the findings provided information that heterogeneity within CU traits can be explained based on differences in neuro-cognitive functioning. In addition, the characteristics of youth high on CU traits only can provide information for interventions aiming to decrease conduct problems among youth high on these traits.


Callous-unemotional traits Conduct problems Risk taking Self regulation Cognitive capacity 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CyprusNicosiaCyprus

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