Psychiatric Quarterly

, Volume 89, Issue 1, pp 1–10 | Cite as

Specific Contributions of Age of Onset, Callous-Unemotional Traits and Impulsivity to Reactive and Proactive Aggression in Youths with Conduct Disorders

  • Sébastien UrbenEmail author
  • Stéphanie Habersaat
  • Sandrine Pihet
  • Maya Suter
  • Jill de Ridder
  • Philippe Stéphan
Original Paper


Youths with conduct disorders (CD) are particularly studied for their violent and aggressive behaviors. Many researchers considered aggressive behaviors as being either reactive or proactive. Moreover, factors such as age of CD onset, impulsivity, and callous-unemotional traits, separately, have been related to these different types of aggressive behaviors. However, very few studies addressed the combined contribution of these three factors on proactive and reactive aggression. This question was tested in a sample composed of 43 male adolescents with CD. A single regression analysis including all predictors and outcomes, using Bayesian statistics, was computed. Results indicated that impulsivity was related to reactive aggression, while CU traits were related to proactive aggression. These results suggest first, an important heterogeneity among youth with CD, probably leading to different trajectories and, second, that youths with callous-unemotional traits should receive special attention and care as they are more at risk for proactive aggression.


Conduct disorders Impulsivity Age of onset Callous-unemotional traits Aggression 



The present study was funded by a grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant no. 100014-130553). The authors would like to thank the adolescents and the staff of the participating institutions for their kind cooperation, as well as Sandie Ackermann, Cybèle Bertoni, Tamara Borovicanin, Marcello Cantarella, Margaux Clément, Nathalie Grégoire, Tatiana Mabillard, Laura Moizeau, Sheila Ramos and Yoann Uehlinger for their help in data collection.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sébastien Urben
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stéphanie Habersaat
    • 1
  • Sandrine Pihet
    • 2
  • Maya Suter
    • 1
  • Jill de Ridder
    • 3
  • Philippe Stéphan
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Unit, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Service, Department of PsychiatryUniversity Hospital Center and University of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.School of nursingUniversity of Applied Sciences and Art of Western SwitzerlandFribourgSwitzerland
  3. 3.Departement of PsychologyUniversity of FribourgFribourgSwitzerland

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