Callous-Unemotional Traits and Future Offending

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Annette Shifflett
PSY-310
Dr. Erica St.Germain
SNHU
Callous-unemotional traits and future offending
Callous-unemotional (CU) traits are a known aspect of psychopathic personalities in adults. What this study sought to prove was that CU traits were a predictor of future criminal offending. Although prior criminal history is the greatest predictor of future offending, this study showed that self-reported CU traits in elementary age males are “a unique and robust predictor of future offending, even after controlling for several other well-established risk factors” (Kahn, R., et al., 2012).

Participants in the study, a part of the Pittsburgh Youth Study, were recruited from Pittsburgh public schools, randomly, when in the first, fourth, and seventh grade. They were initially screened in 1987. The families, teachers, and students themselves participated in the screening assessment. Only the top thirty percent for behavior problems were chosen for further study. Then an equal number of boys were randomly selected from the remaining boys.

When the participants were approximately 25 years old, they were reassessed. 417 participants were recontacted and completed the reassessment. 43% were Caucasian, 53% were African American, and less than 5% were other minorities. Eleven African Aerican participants died before the reassessment, mostly due to homicide.

After being contacted privately, either in their homes or by phone, the individual CU and Adult Self-Report were completed. Official arrest records were obtained for the length of participation in the study. The end outcome showed a direct relation between those who scored high on the CU traits scale and those with criminal records. Although the greater predictability was found in assessing such risk factors as prior criminal history and the employment status of the participants, these factors are impossible to determine at the age that the first CU traits were recognizable in young boys. Therefore, this gives...
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