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09-03-2018 | Uitgave 1/2018

Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment 1/2018

Multidimensionality of Youth Psychopathic Traits: Validation and Future Directions

Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment > Uitgave 1/2018
Steve S. Lee


The seven articles featured in this Special Section on “Child Psychopathic Traits for Specifying Conduct Disorder” collectively prosecute an important tension in the field: despite evidence that psychopathic traits in children, adolescent, and adults are multidimensional, callous-unemotional (CU) traits have evolved to nearly eclipse the construct of youth psychopathic traits. That is, does inclusion of grandiosity and impulsivity, and related psychopathic constructs improve predictive models? Employing a rich array of methods, these studies converged to suggest that using the entire constellation of psychopathic traits significantly improved predictions of key criteria. Crucially, predictions were consistent across development, multiple external criteria, and diversely recruited samples (e.g., community, incarcerated). From a developmental psychopathology framework (Cicchetti 2008), I synthesize the theoretical and empirical implications of these studies and offer perspectives on future directions. In particular, there is an urgent need to elucidate mechanisms from psychopathic traits to important clinical, public health, and functional outcomes; identification of potential causal processes is necessary to establish the validity of psychopathic traits and to ultimately innovate intervention and prevention efforts.

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