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09-03-2018 | Uitgave 1/2018

Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment 1/2018

Unique and Interactive Associations of Callous-Unemotional Traits, Impulsivity and Grandiosity with Child and Adolescent Conduct Disorder Symptoms

Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment > Uitgave 1/2018
Kostas A. Fanti, Melina Nicole Kyranides, Alexandros Lordos, Olivier F. Colins, Henrik Andershed
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Kostas A. Fanti and Melina N. Kyranides are shared first authors


The construct of psychopathy remains underrepresented in the clinical diagnosis of Conduct Disorder (CD) as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th edition (DSM-5) only addresses one out of the three dimensions of child psychopathy, Callous Unemotional (CU) traits. This study tests if and to what extent there are unique and interactive associations of CU traits, impulsivity, and grandiosity with child and adolescent CD symptoms. Data were collected from two separate community samples of children (N = 1599; Mage = 9.46, SD = 1.65; 52% female) and adolescents (N = 2719; Mage = 16.99, SD = 0.99; 49% female), who were followed longitudinally after a year. Hierarchical linear regression analyses were conducted, testing cross-sectional and longitudinal associations with CD symptoms, taking into account all three psychopathy dimensions. The cross-sectional findings indicate that only youth presenting a combination of all three psychopathy dimensions scored above the clinical cut-off score for CD. On the other hand, longitudinal findings provided evidence that the combination of high initial levels of CD and CU traits as well as the combination between CD, grandiosity, and impulsivity can lead to clinical levels of future CD symptoms. Findings also indicated that CU traits and impulsivity more strongly predicted adolescent than child CD symptoms, and that CU traits were more strongly associated with boys’ than girls’ CD symptoms. Findings support the inclusion of CU traits as a specifier for the diagnosis of CD, and provide evidence that other psychopathy dimensions can also help clinicians to better understand and treat youth with CD, and should be considered for future revisions of the DSM.

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