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Personality risk for antisocial behavior: Testing the intersections between callous–unemotional traits, sensation seeking, and impulse control in adolescence

  • Frank D. Mann (a1), Sara L. Paul (a1), Jennifer L. Tackett (a2), Elliot M. Tucker-Drob (a1) and K. Paige Harden (a1)...

The current project seeks to integrate literatures on personality risk for antisocial behavior (ASB) by examining how callous–unemotional traits relate to (a) the development of disinhibited traits and (b) the association between disinhibited traits and ASB. In Study 1, using a nationally representative sample of youth (N > 7,000), we examined whether conduct problems and lack of guilt assessed during ages 4–10 years predicted levels of and changes in disinhibited traits over the course of adolescence, and moderated associations between these traits and ASB. High levels of childhood conduct problems were associated with higher levels of impulsivity, sensation seeking, and ASB in early adolescence, whereas lack of guilt was associated with lower levels of sensation seeking. Neither conduct problems nor lack of guilt significantly predicted changes in impulsivity or sensation seeking, and associations among changes in sensation seeking, impulsivity, and ASB were also consistent across levels of conduct problems and lack of guilt. In Study 2, using a cross-sectional sample of adolescents (N = 970), we tested whether callous–unemotional traits moderated associations between disinhibited traits and ASB. Consistent with the results of Study 1, associations between disinhibited personality and ASB were consistent across a continuous range of callous–unemotional traits.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Frank D. Mann, Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, 108 East Dean Keeton Stop A8000, Austin, TX 78712-1043; E-mail:
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