Inhibiting the Inhibitor: Are Callous-Unemotional Traits Capable of Suppressing the Inhibitory Effect of Child Self-Disclosure on Delinquency?

  • Glenn D. Walters



Using a mediation methodology and three waves of data, the current study sought to determine whether callous-unemotional (CU) traits were capable of suppressing the inhibitory effect of child self-disclosure on delinquency in line with predictions from criminal lifestyle theory. The results were then compared to the suppressant effect of low self-control (LSC) on the child self-disclosure–delinquency relationship.


Participants for this study were 2586 (1290 boys, 1296 girls) members of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth–Child (NLSY-C). CU traits and LSC were measured when participants were 9 to 10 years of age, child self-disclosure was measured when participants were 11 to 12 years of age, and delinquency was measured when participants were 13 to 14 years of age.


Consistent with predictions, the pathway running from CU traits to child self-disclosure to delinquency was significant whereas the pathway running from LSC to child self-disclosure to delinquency was non-significant. Contrary to predictions, the two pathways were not significantly different from one another.


Moderate support was found for the hypothesis that one way CU traits encourage delinquency is by inhibiting the child’s willingness to disclose information to parents. This, in turn, may limit a parent’s knowledge of a child’s friendship networks and routine activities and/or reduce parental monitoring activities.


Callous-unemotional traits Perceived parental knowledge Child self-disclosure 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Criminal JusticeKutztown UniversityKutztownUSA

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