Callous-unemotional (CU) traits, that is, a lack of guilt or empathy and poverty of emotion, are believed to be the developmental precursor to psychopathy in adulthood, capturing its emotional detachment dimension.
Similar to psychopathic adults, research shows that children and adolescents with high CU traits represent an important population at heightened risk for criminal behavior. The present study is the first to examine whether a self-report measure of CU traits, the Inventory of Callous-Unemotional Traits (ICU), predicts general and violent recidivism postinstitutional release among a sample of 227 juvenile justice-involved adolescent boys (M age = 15.73, SD = 1.27).
Results indicated that boys high on CU traits were faster to reoffend postrelease both nonviolently (Hazard Ratio [HR] = 1.27, p < .01) and violently (HR = 1.54, p < .05). Further, the Uncaring subscale of the ICU predicted faster time to general recidivism (HR = 1.21, p < .05), whereas the Callousness subscale (i.e., "I do not care who I hurt to get what I want") predicted faster time to violent recidivism (HR = 1.39, p < .05). The present study provides preliminary support for the predictive validity of a brief, yet comprehensive self-report measure of CU traits.
Findings inform youth risk assessment by offering possibilities within the domain of self-report for screening high-risk youth in need of intensive, comprehensive, and individualized intervention
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Psychol Assess. 2016 Feb 4.
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