Child Psychiatry & Human Development

, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 480–491 | Cite as

Intergenerational Stability of Callous–Unemotional Traits

  • Antonio Mendoza Diaz
  • Sandy Overgaauw
  • David  J. Hawes
  • Mark R. Dadds
Original Article


This study investigated the stability of callous and unemotional (CU) traits across generations by assessing self-report assessments of psychopathy factors in parents and their relationship to children’s CU traits in a clinical sample: 223 boys (M age = 7.65) and 83 girls (M = 7.35) referred for treatment of disruptive behavior disorders. First, we expanded previous findings showing a positive relationship between maternal psychopathy scores and CU traits in boys. Second, we tested whether parental psychopathy scores predicted CU traits in children over and above general indicators of mental health risk: parental psychopathology, parental warmth, and harsh parenting. Fathers’ psychopathy factor 1 was uniquely related to CU traits. In contrast, the relationship between mothers’ psychopathy factor 2 and children’s CU traits disappeared when maternal warmth was included. Gender differences suggested these results are most applicable to boys. These findings support the intergenerational stability of psychopathy factor 1 between children and their fathers.


Callous and unemotional traits Externalizing disorders Psychopathy Intergenerational transmission Disruptive behaviour disorders 

Supplementary material

10578_2017_766_MOESM1_ESM.docx (29 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 29 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Child Behavior Research Clinic, School of PsychologyUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Clinical Psychology Unit, Institute of PsychologyLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

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