Some Concerns about Antisocial Behavior in Children and Adolescents: Psychopathy and Callous-Unemotional Traits



The article presents a review of modern international concepts and empirical researches of a set of affective-related and personality traits, which is regarded as important for understanding the aetiology and psychological mechanisms of the most aggressive and poorly corrigible patterns of antisocial behavior. Conceptualized as psychopathy and closely related to antisocial personality disorder, though not equivalent to it, this set of traits includes such characteristics as lack of empathy, callousness, poor behavioral control, irresponsibility, impulsivity, etc. Investigation of psychopathy in children and adolescents is relevant in view of the growing body of data on early manifestation of severe conduct problems. Studies of large heterogeneous group of children and adolescents with antisocial behavior have shown that focusing on affective and interpersonal characteristics allows to single out a group of youths that demonstrate particularly aggressive patterns of antisocial behavior that are paired with certain emotional deficits. Implementing such approach to studying severe antisocial behavior in children and adolescents has led to extending this construct of psychopathy to youths. The review also discusses the latest measures of psychopathy employed in international clinical science, central lines of research of child and adolescent psychopathy, as well as perspectives of studying psychopathy in Russia.

General Information

Keywords: psychopathy, callous-unemotional traits, antisocial behavior, child, adolescence

Journal rubric: Medical Psychology

Article type: review article


For citation: Atadjikova Y.A., Enikolopov S.N. Some Concerns about Antisocial Behavior in Children and Adolescents: Psychopathy and Callous-Unemotional Traits [Elektronnyi resurs]. Sovremennaia zarubezhnaia psikhologiia = Journal of Modern Foreign Psychology, 2019. Vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 16–28. DOI: 10.17759/jmfp.2019080302. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


  1. Atadzhykova Yu.A., Enikolopov S.N. Aprobatsiya metodiki diagnostiki psikhopatii K. Patrika na rossiiskoi vyborke [Testing K. Patrick Method of Psychopathy Diagnosis in Russian Sample]. Psikhologicheskaya nauka i obrazovanie [Psychological Science and Education], 2015, vol. 20, no. 4, pp. 75–85. doi:10.17759/pse.2015200407. (In Russ.; Abstr. in Engl.).
  2. Atadzhykova Yu.A., Enikolopov S.N. Problemy kontsepta psikhopatii v sovremennoi otechestvennoi i zarubezhnoi psikhologii [Problems of Psychopathy Concept in the Modern Domestic and Foreign Psychology]. Psikhologicheskaya nauka i obrazovanie [Psychological Science and Education], 2016, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 114–127. doi:10.17759/psyedu.2016080111. (In Russ.; Abstr. in Engl.).
  3. Atadzhykova Yu.A., Enikolopov S.N. Razvitie kontsepta psikhopatii v otechestvennoi i zarubezhnoi psikhologii (obzor literatury) [Elektronnyi resurs] [Concept of psychopathy and its development in russian and foreign psychology (literature review)]. Vestnik YuUrGU. Ser. Psikhologiya [Bulletin of the South Ural State University. Ser. Psychology], 2015, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 77–86. URL: (Accessed 06.09.2019). (In Russ.; Abstr. in Engl.).
  4. Syrokvashina K.V. Antisotsial'noe rasstroistvo lichnosti u podrostkov s delinkventnym povedeniem (obzor zarubezhnoi literatury) [Elektronnyi resurs] [Antisocial personality disorder in adolescents with delinquent behavior (a review of foreign literature)]. Psikhologiya i pravo [Psychology and Law], 2013, no. 4, pp. 1–10. URL: (Accessed 06.09.2019). (In Russ.; Abstr. in Engl.).
  5. Colins F.O. et al. A New Measure to Assess Psychopathic Personality in Children: The Child Problematic Traits Inventory. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 2014, vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 4–21. doi:10.1007/s10862-013-9385-y
  6. Anderson N.E., Kiehl K.A. Psychopathy: Developmental Perspectives and their Implications for Treatment. Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, 2014, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 103–117. doi:10.3233/RNN-139001
  7. Anderson S.L., Zheng Y., McMahon R.J. Do Callous–Unemotional Traits and Conduct Disorder Symptoms Predict the Onset and Development of Adolescent Substance Use? Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 2018, vol. 49, no. 5, pp. 688–698. doi:10.1007/s10578-018-0789-5
  8. Van Geel M. et al. Are Youth Psychopathic Traits Related to Bullying? Metaanalyses on Callous-Unemotional Traits, Narcissism, and Impulsivity. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 2017, vol. 48, no. 5, pp. 768–777. doi:10.1007/s10578-016-0701-0
  9. Kimonis E.R. et al. Assessing callous–unemotional traits in adolescent offenders: Validation of the Inventory of Callous–Unemotional Traits. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 2018, vol. 31, no. 3, pp. 241–252. doi:10.1016/j.ijlp.2008.04.002
  10. Roose A. et al. Assessing the Affective Features of Psychopathy in Adolescence: A Further Validation of the Inventory of Callous and Unemotional Traits. Assessment, 2010, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 44–57. doi:10.1177/1073191109344153
  11. Wang P.-W. et al. Associations between callous-unemotional traits and various types of involvement in school bullying among adolescents in Taiwan. Journal of the Formosan Medical Association, 2019, vol. 118, no. 1, pp. 50–56. doi:10.1016/j.jfma.2018.01.003
  12. Frick P.J. et al. Callous-unemotional traits and conduct problems in the prediction of conduct problem severity, aggression, and self-report of delinquency. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 2003, vol. 31, no. 4, pp. 457–470. doi:10.1023/A:1023899703866
  13. Frick P.J. et al. Can Callous-Unemotional Traits Enhance the Understanding, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Serious Conduct Problems in Children and Adolescents? A Comprehensive Review. Psychological Bulletin, 2014, vol. 140, no. 1, pp. 1–57. doi:10.1037/a0033076
  14. Ezpeleta L. et al. Clinical Characteristics of Preschool Children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Callous-Unemotional Traits. PLoS ONE, 2014, vol. 10, no. 9. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0139346
  15. Colins F.O. et al. Comparing Different Approaches for Subtyping Children with Conduct Problems: Callous-Unemotional Traits Only Versus the Multidimensional Psychopathy Construct. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 2018, vol. 40, no. 1, pp. 6–15. doi:10.1007/s10862-018-9653-y
  16. Pisano S. et al. Conduct disorders and psychopathy in children and adolescents: aetiology, clinical presentation and treatment strategies of callous-unemotional traits. Italian Journal of Pediatrics, 2017, vol. 43, no. 1, pp. 84–95. doi:10.1186/s13052-017-0404-6
  17. Cooke D.J., Michie C.M. Refining the construct of psychopathy: Towards a hierarchical mode. Psychological Assessment, 2001, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 171–188. doi:10.1037111040-3590.13.2.171
  18. Crego C., Widiger T.A. Psychopathy and the DSM. Journal of Personality, 2014, vol. 83, no. 6, pp. 665–677. doi:10.1111/jopy.12115
  19. Hyde L.W. et al. Early starting, aggressive, and/or callous-unemotional? Examining the overlap and predictive utility of antisocial behavior subtypes. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 2015, vol. 124, no. 2, pp. 329–342. doi:10.1037/abn0000029
  20. Essau C.A., Sasagawa S., Frick P.J. Callous-Unemotional Traits in a Community Sample of Adolescents. Assessment, 2006, vol. 20, no. 10, pp. 1–16. doi:10.1177/1073191106287354
  21. Viding E. et al. Evidence for substantial genetic risk for psychopathy in 7-year-olds. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2005, vol. 46, no. 6, pp. 592–7. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2004.00393.x
  22. Forsman M. Psychopathy in Adolescence – Genetic and Environmental Influences: Thesis for Doctoral degree. Stockholm, 2009. 46 p.
  23. Frick P.J. Effective Interventions for Children and Adolescents with Conduct Disorder. Canadian journal of psychiatry, 2001, vol. 46, no. 7, pp. 597–608. doi:10.1177/070674370104600703
  24. Frick P.J. Extending the Construct of Psychopathy to Youth: Implications for Understanding, Diagnosing, and Treating Antisocial Children and Adolescents. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 2009, vol. 54, no. 12, pp. 803–812. doi:10.1177/070674370905401203
  25. Frick P.J., Bodin S.D., Barry C.T. Psychopathic traits and conduct problems in community and clinic-referred samples of children: Further development of the Psychopathy Screening Device. Psychological Assessment, 2000, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 382–393. doi:10.1037/1040-3590.12.4.382
  26. Frick P.J., Marsee M.A. Psychopathy and Developmental Pathways to Antisocial Behavior in Youth. In Patrick C.J. (ed.). Handbook of psychopathy. New York: Guilford Publications, 2006, pp. 353–374.
  27. Frick P.J., Viding E. Antisocial behavior from a developmental psychopathology perspective. Development and Psychopathology, 2009, vol. 21, no. 4, pp. 1111–1131. doi:10.1017/S0954579409990071
  28. Frick P.J., White S.F. The importance of callous-unemotional traits for developmental models of aggressive and antisocial behavior [Elektronnyi resurs]. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2008, vol. 49, no. 4, pp. 359–375. URL: (Accessed 10.09.2019).
  29. Henry J. et al. Genetic and environmental aetiology of the dimensions of Callous-Unemotional traits. Psychological Medicine, 2016, vol. 46, pp. 405–414. doi:10.1017/S0033291715001919
  30. Hall J.R., Benning S.D., Patrick C.J. Criterion-Related Validity of the Three-Factor Model of Psychopathy Personality, Behavior, and Adaptive Functioning. Assessment, 2004, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 4–16. doi:10.1177/1073191103261466
  31. Halty L., Prieto-Ursúa M. Child and adolescent psychopathy: Assessment and treatment [Elektronnyi resurs]. Papeles del Psicólogo, 2015, vol. 36, no. 2, pp. 117–124. URL: (Accessed 10.09.2019).
  32. Hare R.D. Psychopathy as a risk factor for violence. Psychiatric Quarterly, 1999, vol. 70, no. 3, pp. 181–197. doi:10.1023/A:1022094925150
  33. Hare R.D., Hart S.D., Harpur T.J. Psychopathy and the DSM-IV criteria for antisocial personality disorder. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 1991, vol. 100, no. 3, pp. 391–398. doi:10.1037/0021-843X.100.3.391
  34. Hare R.D., Neumann C.S. Psychopathy: Assessment and forensic implications. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 2009, vol. 54, pp. 791–802. doi:10.1177/070674370905401202
  35. Hare R.D., Neumann C.S. The role of antisociality in the psychopathy construct: Comment on Skeem and Cooke. Psychological Assessment, 2010, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 446–454. doi:10.1037/a0013635
  36. Harris G.T., Rice M.E. Treatment of Psychopathy: A Review of Empirical Findings [Elektronnyi resurs]. In Patrick C.J. (ed.), Handbook of psychopathy. New York: The Guilford Press, 2006, pp. 555–572. URL: (Accessed 10.09.2019).
  37. Hawes D.J., Dadds M.R., Price M. Callous-Unemotional Traits and the Treatment of Conduct Problems in Childhood and Adolescence: A Comprehensive Review. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 2014, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 248–267. doi:0.1007/s10567-014-0167-1
  38. Kruh I.P., Frick P.J., Clements C.B. Historical and Personality Correlates to the Violence Patterns of Juveniles Tried as Adults. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 2005, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 69–96. doi:10.1177/0093854804270629
  39. Lykken D.T. Psychopathy, sociopathy, and crime. Society, 1996, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 29–38. doi:10.1007/BF02696999
  40. McMahon R.J., Witkiewitz K., Kotler J.S. Predictive Validity of Callous-unemotional Traits Measured in Early Adolescence with Respect to Multiple Antisocial Outcomes. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 2010, vol. 119, no. 4, pp. 752–763. doi:10.1037/a0020796
  41. Muñoz Centifanti L. Pubertal timing and callous-unemotional traits in girls: Associations across two samples from the UK and Cyprus. Journal of Adolescence, 2019, vol. 69, pp. 52–61. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2018.08.010
  42. Johansson P. et al. On the operationalization of psychopathy: further support for a three-faceted personality oriented model. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 2002, vol. 106, no. 412, pp. 81–85. doi:10.1034/j.1600-0447.106.s412.18.x
  43. Pardini D.A., Fite P.J. Symptoms of Conduct Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and Callous-Unemotional Traits as Unique Predictors of Psychosocial Maladjustment in Boys: Advancing an Evidence Base for DSM-V. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2010, vol. 49, no. 11, pp. 1134–1144. doi:10.1016/j.jaac.2010.07.010
  44. Patrick C.J. Operationalizing the Triarchic Conceptualization of Psychopathy: Preliminary Description of Brief Scales for Assessment of Boldness, Meanness, and Disinhibition. Unpublished Manual, 2010. 16 p.
  45. Patrick C.J., Drislane L.E. Triarchic Model of Psychopathy: Origins, Operationalizations, and Observed Linkages with Personality and General Psychopathology. Journal of Personality, 2014, vol. 83, no. 6, pp. 627–643. doi:10.1111/jopy.12119 2014
  46. Patrick C.J., Fowles D.C., Krueger R.F. Triarchic conceptualization of psychopathy: Developmental origins of disinhibition, boldness, and meanness. Development and Psychopathology, 2009, vol. 21, pp. 913–938. doi:10.1017/S0954579409000492
  47. Perenc L., Radochonski M. Psychopathic Traits and Reactive-Proactive Aggression in a Large Community Sample of Polish Adolescents. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 2014, vol. 45, no. 4, pp. 464–471. doi:10.1007/s10578-013-0432-4
  48. Bezdjian S. et al. Psychopathic personality in children: genetic and environmental contributions. Psychological Medicine, 2011, vol. 41, no. 3, pp. 589–600. doi:10.1017/S0033291710000966
  49. Skeem J.L. et al. Psychopathic personality or personalities? Exploring potential variants of psychopathy and their implications for risk assessment. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 2003, vol. 8, no. 5, pp. 513–546. doi:10.1016/S1359-1789(02)00098-8
  50. Tuvblad C. et al. Psychopathic personality traits in 5 year old twins: the importance of genetic and shared environmental influences. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2017, vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 469–479. doi:10.1007/s00787-016-0899-1
  51. Blonigen D.M. et al. Psychopathic personality traits: heritability and genetic overlap with internalizing and externalizing psychopathology. Psychological Medicine, 2005, vol. 35, no. 5, pp. 637–648. doi:10.1017/S0033291704004180
  52. Andershed H.A. et al. Psychopathic traits in non-referred youths: a new assessment tool. In. Blaauw Eric (ed.). Psychopaths: current international perspectives. The Hague: Elsevier, 2002, pp. 131–158
  53. Skeem J.L., Cooke D.J. One measure does not a construct make: Directions toward reinvigorating psychopathy research – reply to Hare and Neumann. American Psychological Association, 2010, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 455–459. doi:10.1037/a0014862
  54. Forth A.E. et al. The assessment of psychopathy in male and female noncriminals: Reliability and validity. Personality and Individual Differences, 1996, vol. 20, no. 5, pp. 531–543. doi:10.1016/0191-8869(95)00221-9
  55. Ciucci E. et al. The Association between Callous-Unemotional Traits and Behavioral and Academic Adjustment in Children: Further Validation of the Inventory of Callous-Unemotional Traits. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 2014, vol. 36, pp. 189–200. doi:10.1007/s10862-013-9384-z
  56. Barry C.T. et al. The importance of callous-unemotional traits for extending the concept of psychopathy to children. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 2000, vol. 109, no. 2, pp. 335–340. doi:10.1037/0021-843X.109.2.335
  57. Moore A.A. et al. The Inventory of Callous-Unemotional Traits (ICU) in Children: Reliability and Heritability. Behavior Genetics, 2017, vol. 47, no. 2, pp. 141–151. doi:10.1007/s10519-016-9831-1
  58. Morales-Vives F. et al. The Inventory of Callous-Unemotional Traits and Antisocial Behavior (INCA) for Young People: Development and Validation in a Community Sample. Frontiers in Psychology, 2019, vol. 10, Article 713. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00713
  59. Lilienfeld S.O. et al. The role of fearless dominance in psychopathy: confusions, controversies, and clarifications. Personality Disorders, 2012, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 327–40. doi:10.1037/a0026987
  60. Thornberg R., Jungert T. Callous-Unemotional Traits, Harm-Effect Moral Reasoning, and Bullying Among Swedish Children. Child Youth Care Forum, 2017, vol. 46, no. 4, pp. 559–575. doi:10.1007/s10566-017-9395-0 2017
  61. Torrubia Beltri R., Cuquerella Fuentes Á. Psicopatía: una entidad clínica controvertida pero necesaria en psiquiatría forense. Revista Española de Medicina Legal, 2008, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 25–35. doi:10.1016/S0377-4732(08)70023-3
  62. Skeem J.L. et al. Two subtypes of psychopathic violent offenders that parallel primary and secondary variants. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 2007, vol. 116, no. 2, pp. 395–409. doi:10.1037/0021-843X.116.2.395
  63. Viding E., McCrory E.J. Genetic and neurocognitive contributions to the development of psychopathy. Development and Psychopathology, 2012, vol. 24, no. 3, pp. 969–983. doi:10.1017/S095457941200048X 2012
  64. Vitacco M.J., Rogers R., Neumann C.S. The Antisocial Process Screening Device: An Examination of Its Construct and Criterion-Related Validity. Assessment, 2003, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 143–150. doi:10.1177/1073191103010002005
  65. Yoder K.J., Lahey B.B., Decety J. Callous traits in children with and without conduct problems predict reduced connectivity when viewing harm to others. Scientific Reports, 2016, vol. 6. Article 20216. doi:10.1038/srep20216

Information About the Authors

Yuliya A. Atadjikova, Junior Research Associate, Department of Medical Psychology, Federal State Budgetary Institution of Science “Mental Health Research Center”, Moscow, Russia, e-mail:

Sergey N. Enikolopov, PhD in Psychology, Associate Professor, Head of Department of Clinical Psychology, Mental Health Research Center, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



Total: 2397
Previous month: 50
Current month: 40


Total: 2004
Previous month: 79
Current month: 32