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01-06-2015 | Uitgave 2/2015

Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment 2/2015

Examining the Role of Callous-Unemotional Traits in the Attributional Styles and Self Competence Evaluations of Children with Conduct Problems and ADHD

Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment > Uitgave 2/2015
Sarah M. Haas, Daniel A. Waschbusch, Sara King, Trudi M. Walsh


It is now well established that there are important behavioral differences between conduct problem (CP) children with and without callous-unemotional traits (CU). Although various externalizing symptoms are differentially related to how youth perceive or explain their own behaviors (e.g., self-perceptions), no research has yet examined whether children with CP-only differ from children with CP/CU in how they perceive or explain their own behaviors. The current study addressed this topic by examining the self-perceptions and attributions for positive and negative social situations of CP children with and without CU traits. Participants were 72 (76 % boys) elementary school-aged children (M = 9.72, SD = 1.65) who were divided into three groups: typically developing controls (n = 17), CP/ADHD-only (n = 40), or CP/ADHD-CU (n = 15). Results showed that, compared to other groups, children in the CP/ADHD-CU group had lower global self worth yet equal (or higher) pereceived self-competence about their behavior conduct. In addition, the CP/ADHD-CU group made stronger attributions to their own behavior problems as a reason for negative social outcomes, and they made strong external attributions for both negative and positive outcomes. These differences were significant after controlling for depression, narcissism, and CP. These findings may suggest that children with CP/ADHD-CU do not feel as badly as typically developing children about their misbehavior and are thus unmotivated to change it.

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