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24-10-2020 | Original Article

Primary and Secondary Variants of Psychopathic Traits in at-Risk Youth: Links with Maltreatment, Aggression, and Empathy

Tijdschrift:
Child Psychiatry & Human Development
Auteurs:
Stacy Metcalf, Kelli L. Dickerson, Helen M. Milojevich, Jodi A. Quas
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Abstract

The current study examined whether two variants of psychopathic traits (PT) were identifiable in high-risk youth who had not yet been identified as antisocial, some of whom had documented histories of maltreatment (N = 167, Mage = 14.84), and then whether the variants differed in levels of aggression and empathy. High-PT youth with low anxiety and trauma (i.e., primary variant PT) and high anxiety and trauma (i.e., secondary variant PT) were differentiated. The secondary variant group was comprised largely of youth with documented histories of maltreatment. This group of youth also reported higher levels of proactive and reactive aggression than did the primary variant youth and low-PT youth. All youth reported similar levels of affective empathy and only small differences in cognitive empathy emerged: Primary variant youth reported lower cognitive empathy than low-PT youth. Findings support generalization of two variant groups of youth with psychopathic traits to diverse, high-risk samples not already identified as antisocial and have important implications for policy and practice.

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