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16-04-2019 | Uitgave 10/2019 Open Access

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 10/2019

Callous-Unemotional Traits and Academic Performance in Secondary School Students: Examining the Moderating Effect of Gender

Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology > Uitgave 10/2019
Elisabeth Bird, Celine Y. Chhoa, Emily Midouhas, Jennifer L. Allen
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Callous-unemotional (CU) traits and male gender are both known risk factors for poor academic outcomes in children and adolescents. However, despite gender differences in CU trait severity, comorbid difficulties and correlates of CU traits, research has yet to examine whether the CU traits and male gender may work together to increase risk for poor academic performance. That is, whether boys high in CU traits perform more poorly across academic disciplines than girls high in these traits. This study therefore aimed to investigate i) the relationships between CU traits, student gender and English, Science and Math grades, and ii) whether gender moderates the association between CU traits and academic outcomes. Participants were 437 children aged 11 to 14 years (mean age 12.50 years; 49% girls; 85% White) attending a state secondary school in England. Students reported on CU traits and externalizing problems and their English, Math and Science grades were gathered from school records. Using hierarchical linear modelling, CU traits were found to be significantly related to lower English, Math and Science grades when controlling for age, gender, sociodemographic disadvantage and externalizing problems. CU traits were significantly related to lower Science grades for boys but not girls. However, gender did not moderate the association between CU traits for English or Math grades. Findings enhance our understanding of how child characteristics may interact to increase the likelihood of poor school outcomes, and therefore help us to identify youth at-risk for poor academic performance.

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