Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 625–638 | Cite as

Can Callous-Unemotional Traits be Reliably Measured in Preschoolers?

  • Eva R. Kimonis
  • Kostas A. Fanti
  • Xenia Anastassiou-Hadjicharalambous
  • Biran Mertan
  • Natalie Goulter
  • Evita Katsimicha
Article

Abstract

Callous-unemotional (CU) traits designate an important subgroup of antisocial individuals at risk for early-starting, severe, and persistent conduct problems, but this construct has received limited attention among young children. The current study evaluated the factor structure, psychometric properties, and validity of scores on a comprehensive measure of CU traits, the Inventory of Callous-Unemotional Traits (ICU), in relation to measures of antisocial/prosocial behavior and emotional processing, administered to preschool children. The sample included 214 boys (52 %) and girls (48 %, M age = 4.7, SD = 0.69) recruited from mainstream and high-risk preschools. Confirmatory factor analyses supported a two-factor structure including callous and uncaring dimensions from 12 of the 24 original ICU items. Scores on the parent- and teacher-reported ICU were internally consistent and combined CU scores showed expected associations with an alternate measure of CU traits and measures of empathy, prosocial behavior, conduct problems, and aggression. Preschool children high on CU traits were less accurate, relative to children scoring low, in recognizing facial expressions. They were also less attentionally engaged by images of others in distress when co-occurring conduct problems presented. Findings extend the literature by supporting the psychometric properties of the ICU among young children, and open several avenues for studying early precursors to this severe personality disturbance.

Keywords

Callous-unemotional traits Psychopathy Conduct problems With limited prosocial emotions Preschool 

Supplementary material

10802_2015_75_MOESM1_ESM.docx (20 kb)
ESM 1(DOCX 20 kb)
10802_2015_75_MOESM2_ESM.docx (18 kb)
ESM 2(DOCX 18 kb)
10802_2015_75_MOESM3_ESM.docx (20 kb)
ESM 3(DOCX 20 kb)
10802_2015_75_MOESM4_ESM.docx (18 kb)
ESM 4(DOCX 18 kb)

References

  1. Akaike, H. (1987). Factor analysis and AIC. Psychometrika, 52, 317–332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Asscher, J. J., van Vugt, E. S., Stams, G. J. J., Deković, M., Eichelsheim, V. I., & Yousfi, S. (2011). The relationship between juvenile psychopathic traits, delinquency and (violent) recidivism: a meta-analysis. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 52, 1134–1143.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Bentler, P. M. (1990). Comparitive fit indexes in structural models. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 238–246.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Blair, R. J. R. (1999). Responsiveness to distress cues in the child with psychopathic tendencies. Personality and Individual Differences, 27, 135–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Blair, R. J. R., Colledge, E., Murray, L., & Mitchell, D. G. V. (2001). A selective impairment in the processing of sad and fearful expressions in children with psychopathic tendencies. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 29, 491–498.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Browne, M. W., & Cudeck, R. (1993). Alternative ways of assessing model fit. In K. A. Bollen, & J. S. Long (Eds.), Testing structural equation models (pp. 136–162). Newbury Park: Sage.Google Scholar
  7. Burke, B. G. (1999). Item reversals and response validity in the job diagnostic survey. Psychological Reports, 85, 213–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cleckley, H. (1941/1976). The mask of sanity. Mosby: St. Louis.Google Scholar
  9. Cordery, J. L., & Sevastos, P. P. (1993). Responses to the original and revised job diagnostic survey: is education a factor in responses to negatively worded items? Journal of Applied Psychology, 78, 141–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Crick, N. R. (1996). The role of overt aggression, relational aggression, and prosocial behavior in the prediction of children’s future social adjustment. Child Development, 67(5), 2317–2327.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Crick, N. R., Cass, J. F., & Mosher, M. (1997). Relational and physical aggression in preschool. Developmental Psychology, 33, 579–588.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Dadds, M. R., Fraser, J., Frost, A., & Hawes, D. J. (2005). Disentangling the underlying dimensions of psychopathy and conduct problems in childhood: a community study. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 73, 400–410.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Dadds, M. R., Perry, Y., Hawes, D. J., Merz, S., Riddell, A. C., Haines, D. J., et al. (2006). Attention to the eyes and fear-recognition deficits in child psychopathy. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 189, 280–281.Google Scholar
  14. Dadds, M. R., Hawes, D. J., Frost, A. D., Vassallo, V., Bunn, P., Hunter, K., & Merz, S. (2008a). The measurement of empathy in children using parent reports. Journal of Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 39, 111–122.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Dadds, M. R., El Masry, Y., Wimalaweera, S., & Guastella, A. J. (2008b). Reduced eye gaze explains “fear blindness” in childhood psychopathic traits. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 47, 455–463.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Dadds, M. R., Hawes, D. J., Frost, A. D., Vassallo, S., Bunn, P., Hunter, K., & Merz, S. (2009). Learning to ‘talk the talk’: the relationship of psychopathic traits to deficits in empathy across childhood. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 50, 599–606.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Dawel, A., O’Kearney, R., McKone, E., & Palermo, R. (2012). Not just fear and sadness: meta-analytic evidence of pervasive emotion recognition deficits for facial and vocal expressions in psychopathy. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 36, 2288–2304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Eisenstadt, T. H., McElreath, L. S., Eyberg, S. M., & McNeil, C. B. (1994). Interparent agreement on the eyberg child behavior inventory. Child and Family Behavior Therapy, 16, 21–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ekman, P., & Friesen, W. V. (1976). Pictures of facial affect. Palo Alto:Consulting Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  20. Essau, C. A., Sasagawa, S., & Frick, P. J. (2006). Callous–unemotional traits in community sample of adolescents. Assessment, 13, 454–469.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Eyberg, S. M., & Pincus, D. (1999). Eyberg child behavior inventory and Sutter-Eyberg student behavior inventory-revised: Professional manual. Odessa:Psychological Assessment Resources.Google Scholar
  22. Ezpeleta, L., de la Osa, N., Granero, R., Penelo, E., & Domènech, J. M. (2013). Inventory of callous-unemotional traits in a community sample of preschoolers. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 42, 91–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fanti, K. A., Frick, P. J., & Georgiou, S. (2009). Linking callous-unemotional traits to instrumental and noninstrumental forms of aggression. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 31, 285–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fanti, K. A., Panayiotou, G., Lazarou, C., Michael, R., & Georgiou, G. (2015). The better of two evils? Evidence that children exhibiting continuous conduct problems high or low on callous-unemotional traits score on opposite directions on physiological and behavioral measures of fear. Development and Psychopathology. doi:10.1017/S0954579415000371.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Frick, P. J. (2004). Developmental pathways to conduct disorder: implications for serving youth who show severe aggressive and antisocial behavior. Psychology in the Schools, 41, 823–834.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Frick, P. J., & Hare, R. D. (2001). The Antisocial Process Screening Device (APSD). Toronto:Multi-Health Systems.Google Scholar
  27. Frick, P. J., Bodin, S. D., & Barry, C. T. (2000). Psychopathic traits and conduct problems in community and clinic-referred samples of children: further development of the psychopathy screening device. Psychological Assessment, 12, 382–393.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Frick, P. J., Ray, J. V., Thornton, L. C., & Kahn, R. E. (2014). Can callous-unemotional traits enhance the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of serious conduct problems in children and adolescents? A comprehensive review. Psychological Bulletin, 140, 1–57.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Funderburk, B. W., & Eyberg, S. M. (1989). Psychometric characteristics of the Sutter-Eyberg student behavior inventory: a school behavior rating scale for use with preschool children. Behavioral Assessment, 11, 297–313.Google Scholar
  30. Funderburk, B. W., Eyberg, S. M., Rich, B. A., & Behar, L. (2003). Further psychometric evaluation of the Eyberg and Behar rating scales for parents and teachers of preschoolers. Early Educational Development, 14, 67–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Goodman, R. (1997). The strengths and difficulties questionnaire: a research note. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 38, 581–586.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Haas, S. M., Waschbusch, D. A., Pelham, W. R., King, S., Andrade, B. F., & Carrey, N. J. (2011). Treatment response in CP/ADHD children with callous/unemotional traits. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 39, 541–552.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Hare, R. D. (1991). The hare psychopathy checklist revised. Toronto:Multi-Health Systems.Google Scholar
  34. Hawes, D. J., & Dadds, M. R. (2007). Stability and malleability of callous-unemotional traits during treatment for childhood conduct problems. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 36, 347–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hawes, D. J., Dadds, M. R., Brennan, J., Rhodes, T., & Cauchi, A. (2013). Revisiting the treatment of conduct problems in children with callous-unemotional traits. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 17, 248–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hawes, D. J., Price, M. J., & Dadds, M. R. (2014a). Callous-unemotional traits and the treatment of conduct problems in childhood and adolescence: a comprehensive review. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 17, 248–267.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Hawes, S. W., Byrd, A. L., Henderson, C. E., Gazda, R. L., Burke, J. D., Loeber, R., & Pardini, D. A. (2014b). Refining the parent-reported inventory of callous-unemotional traits in boys with conduct problems. Psychological Assessment, 26, 256–266.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Houghton, S., Hunter, S. C., & Crow, J. (2013). Assessing callous unemotional traits in children aged 7- to 12-years: a confirmatory factor analysis of the inventory of callous unemotional traits. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 35, 215–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hu, L. T., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 6, 1–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kimonis, E. R., Frick, P. J., Boris, N. W., Smyke, A. T., Cornell, A. H., Farrell, J. M., & Zeanah, C. H. (2006a). Callous-unemotional features, behavioral inhibition, and parenting: independent predictors of aggression in a high-risk preschool sample. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 15, 745–756.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kimonis, E. R., Frick, P. J., Fazekas, H., & Loney, B. R. (2006b). Psychopathy, aggression and the processing of emotional stimuli in non-referred girls and boys. Behavioral Sciences and The Law, 24, 21–37.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Kimonis, E. R., Frick, P. J., Muñoz, L. C., & Aucoin, K. J. (2007). Can a laboratory measure of emotional processing enhance the statistical prediction of aggression and delinquency in detained adolescents with callous-unemotional traits? Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 35, 773–785.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Kimonis, E. R., Frick, P. J., Muñoz, L. C., & Aucoin, K. J. (2008a). Callous-unemotional traits and the emotional processing of distress cues in detained boys. Development and Psychopathology, 20, 569–589.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Kimonis, E. R., Frick, P. J., Skeem, J., Marsee, M. A., Cruise, K., Muñoz, L. C., Aucoin, K. J., & Morris, A. S. (2008b). Assessing callous-unemotional traits in adolescent offenders: validation of the inventory of callous-unemotional traits. Journal of the International Association of Psychiatry and Law, 31, 241–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Kimonis, E. R., Branch, J., Hagman, B., Graham, N., & Miller, C. (2013). The psychometric properties of the inventory of callous–unemotional traits in an undergraduate sample. Psychological Assessment, 25, 84–93.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Kimonis, E. R., Bagner, D. M., Linares, D., Blake, C. A., & Rodriguez, G. (2014a). Parent training outcomes among young children with callous–unemotional conduct problems with or at risk for developmental delay. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 23, 437–448.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  47. Kimonis, E. R., Fanti, K., Goldweber, A., Marsee, M. A., Frick, P. J., & Cauffman, E. (2014b). Callous-unemotional traits in incarcerated adolescents. Psychological Assessment, 26, 227–237.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Kochanska, G., & Thompson, R. A. (1997). The emergence and development of conscience in toddlerhood and early childhood. In J. E. Grusec, & L. Kuczynski (Eds.), Parenting and children’s internalization of values: A handbook of contemporary theory (pp. 53–77). Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
  49. Kolko, D. J., & Pardini, D. A. (2010). ODD dimensions, ADHD, and callous–unemotional traits as predictors of treatment response in children with disruptive behavior disorders. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 119, 713–725.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Lang, P., Bradley, M. M., & Cuthbert, B. N. (1997). Motivated attention: Affect, activation, and action. In P. Lang, R. F. Simons, & M. Balaban (Eds.), Attention and orienting: Sensory and motivational processes (pp. 97–136). Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  51. Loeber, R., Burke, J., & Pardini, D. A. (2009). Perspectives on oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, and psychopathic features. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 50, 133–142.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Lorber, M. F. (2004). Psychophysiology of aggression, psychopathy, and conduct problems: a meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 130, 531–552.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Lynam, D. R., Caspi, A., Moffitt, T. E., Loeber, R., & Stouthamer-Loeber, M. (2007). Longitudinal evidence that psychopathy scores in early adolescence predict adult psychopathy. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 116, 155–165.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  54. MacLeod, C., Mathews, A., & Tata, P. (1986). Attentional bias in emotional disorders. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 95, 15–20.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Marsh, A. A., & Blair, R. J. R. (2008). Deficits in facial affect recognition among antisocial populations: a meta-analysis. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 32, 454–465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. McMahon, R. J., Witkiewitz, K., Kotler, J. S., & The Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group (2010). Predictive validity of callous–unemotional traits measured in early adolescence with respect to multiple antisocial outcomes. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 119, 752–763.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  57. McManis, M. H., Bradley, M. M., Berg, W. K., Cuthbert, B. N., & Lang, P. J. (2001). Emotional reactions in children: verbal, physiological, and behavioral responses to affective pictures. Psychophysiology, 38, 222–231.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. Muñoz, L. C. (2009). Callous-unemotional traits are related to combined deficits in recognizing afraid faces and body poses. Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 48, 554–562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (1998–2013). Mplus users guide (7th ed.). Los Angeles: Muthén & Muthén.Google Scholar
  60. Nunnally, J. C., & Bernstein, I. H. (1994). Psychometric theory. New York:McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  61. Pardini, D., White, H. R., & Stouthamer-Loeber, M. (2007). Early adolescent psychopathology as a predictor of alcohol use disorders by young adulthood. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 88, S38–S49.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  62. Piacentini, J. C., Cohen, P., & Cohen, J. (1992). Combining discrepant diagnostic information from multiple sources: are complex algorithms better than simple ones? Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 20, 51–63.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. Ray, J. V., Frick, P. J., Thornton, L. C., Steinberg, L., & Cauffman, E. (2015). Positive and negative item wording and its influence on the assessment of callous-unemotional traits. Psychological Assessment. Advance online publication.Google Scholar
  64. Roose, A., Bijttbier, P., Decoene, S., Claes, L., & Frick, P. J. (2010). Assessing the affective features of psychopathy in adolescence: a further validation of the inventory of callous and unemotional traits. Assessment, 17, 44–57.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  65. Schermelleh-Engel, K., Moosbrugger, H., & Müller, H. (2003). Evaluatiny the fit of structural equation models: tests of significance and descriptive goodness-of-fit measures. Methods of Psychological Research Online, 8, 23–74.Google Scholar
  66. Schmitt, N., & Stults, D. M. (1985). Factors defined by negatively keyed items: the result of careless respondents? Applied Psychological Measurement, 9, 367–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Shaw, D. S., Gilliom, M., Ingoldsby, E. M., & Nagin, D. S. (2003). Trajectories leading to school-age conduct problems. Developmental Psychology, 39, 189–200.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  68. Simon, D., Craig, K. D., Miltner, W. H., & Rainville, P. (2006). Brain responses to dynamic facial expressions of pain. Pain, 126, 309–318.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  69. Sutter, J., & Eyberg, S. (1984). Sutter-Eyberg Student Behavior Inventory. (Available from Sheila Eyberg, Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Box J-165, HSC, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.Google Scholar
  70. Tucker, L. R., & Lewis, C. (1973). The reliability coefficient for maximum likelihood factor analysis. Psychometrika, 38, 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Viding, E., & Kimonis, E. R. (2015). Callous-unemotional traits in children and youth. In C. Patrick (Ed.), Handbook of psychopathy (2nd ed., ). New York: The Guilford Press (in press).Google Scholar
  72. Viding, E., Frick, P. J., & Plomin, R. (2007). Aetiology of the relationship between callous–unemotional traits and conduct problems in childhood. British Journal of Psychiatry, 190(suppl 49), 33–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Viding, E., Sebastian, C. L., Dadds, M. R., Lockwood, P. L., Cecil, C. A., De Brito, S. A., & McCrory, E. J. (2012). Amygdala response to preattentive masked fear in children with conduct problems: the role of callous-unemotional traits. American Journal of Psychiatry, 169, 1109–1116.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  74. Vitacco, M. J., Rogers, R., & Neumann, C. S. (2003). The antisocial process screening device an examination of its construct and criterion-related validity. Assessment, 10, 143–150.Google Scholar
  75. Willoughby, M. T., Waschbusch, D. A., Moore, G. A., & Propper, C. B. (2011). Using the ASEBA to screen for callous unemotional traits in early childhood: factor structure, temporal stability, and utility. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 33, 19–30.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  76. Willoughby, M. T., Mills-Koonce, W. R., Waschbusch, D. A., & Gottfredson, N. C. (2015). An examination of the parent report version of the inventory of callous-unemotional traits in a community sample of first-grade children. Assessment, 22, 76–85.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  77. Zisser, A., & Eyberg, S. M. (2010). Treating oppositional behavior in children using parent-child interaction therapy. In A. E. Kazdin, & J. R. Weisz (Eds.), Evidence-based psychotherapies for children and adolescents (second ed., ). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eva R. Kimonis
    • 1
  • Kostas A. Fanti
    • 1
  • Xenia Anastassiou-Hadjicharalambous
    • 1
  • Biran Mertan
    • 1
  • Natalie Goulter
    • 1
  • Evita Katsimicha
    • 1
  1. 1.SydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations