Antisocial behavior from a developmental psychopathology perspective

Department of Psychology, University of New Orleans, 2001 Geology and Psychology Building, New Orleans, LA 70148, USA.
Development and Psychopathology (Impact Factor: 4.89). 11/2009; 21(4):1111-31. DOI: 10.1017/S0954579409990071
Source: PubMed


This paper reviews research on chronic patterns of antisocial behavior and places this research into a developmental psychopathology framework. Specifically, research suggests that there are at least three important pathways through which children and adolescents can develop severe antisocial behaviors. One group of youth shows antisocial behavior that begins in adolescence, and two groups show antisocial behavior that begins in childhood but differ on the presence or absence of callous-unemotional traits. In outlining these distinct pathways to antisocial behavior, we have tried to illustrate some key concepts from developmental psychopathology such as equifinality and multifinality, the importance of understanding the interface between normal and abnormal development, and the importance of using multiple levels of analyses to advance causal theories. Finally, we discuss how this development model can be used to enhance existing interventions for antisocial individuals.

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Available from: Paul J Frick
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    • "A significant body of research in the last 20 years has focused on the presence of callous unemotional (CU) traits, which designate a distinct subgroup of children with antisocial behavior (Frick, Ray, Thornton, & Kahn, 2014; Frick & Viding, 2009). Children with high levels of CU traits appear distinct from their low-CU peers in etiology (with a stronger genetic predisposition to antisocial behavior), prognosis (increased risk of developing persistent antisocial behavior), and pattern of neurocognitive vulnerability (atypical affective/empathic processing, accompanied by functional and structural brain abnormalities in emotion processing and regulation areas) (Frick & Viding, 2009; Viding & McCrory, 2012). Important questions remain regarding how CU traits impact the response of children receiving treatment for antisocial behavior, and particularly the issue of whether children with CU traits require specific, tailored intervention components. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Children and adolescents with callous unemotional (CU) traits are at risk of severe and persistent antisocial behavior. It is commonly assumed that these children are difficult to treat but it has been proposed that they may benefit from being involved in interventions that go beyond typical parent training programs. Aim: This systematic review sought to answer two previously unanswered questions: do interventions involving young people reduce levels of CU traits? Do CU traits predict the effectiveness of interventions for antisocial behavior involving young people? Method: Studies were included that adopted an randomized controlled trial, controlled or open trial design and that had examined whether treatment was related to reductions in CU traits or whether CU traits predicted or moderated treatment effectiveness. Results: Treatments used a range of approaches, including behavioral therapy, emotion recognition training, and multimodal interventions. 4/7 studies reported reductions in CU traits following treatment. There was a mixed pattern of findings in 15 studies that examined whether CU traits predicted treatment outcomes following interventions for antisocial behavior. In 7/15 studies, CU traits were associated with worse outcomes, although three of these studies did not provide data on baseline antisocial behavior, making it difficult to evaluate whether children with high CU traits had shown improvements relative to their own behavioral baseline, despite having the worst behavioral outcomes overall. CU traits did not predict outcomes in 7/15 studies. Finally, a single study reported that CU traits predicted an overall increased response to treatment. Conclusions: Overall, the evidence supports the idea that children with CU traits do show reductions in both their CU traits and their antisocial behavior, but typically begin treatment with poorer premorbid functioning and can still end with higher levels of antisocial behavior. However, there is considerable scope to build on the current evidence base.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
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    • "A second child characteristic that is thought to be important to the development of externalizing behavior, particularly CU behavior, is a low fearful or inhibited temperament. A large body of literature suggests that optimal levels of fear and shyness (i.e., an optimal normative level of temperamental anxiety) are conducive to the development of conscience (Kochanska, Gross, Lin, & Nichols, 2002) and the inhibition of aggression (Frick & Viding, 2009) due to the discomfort felt after wrongdoing and the modulatory effect of fear on disinhibition associated with externalizing behavior. Thus, normative levels of arousal and anxiety, which could be assessed with temperament measures such as fear and shyness (i.e., behavioral inhibition), could inhibit future aggressive or rule-breaking behavior (Lahey & Waldman, 2003; Patrick, Fowles, & Krueger, 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: Childhood externalizing problems are more likely to be severe and persistent when combined with high levels of callous-unemotional (CU) behavior. A handful of recent studies have shown that CU behavior can also be reliably measured in the early preschool years, which may help to identify young children who are less likely to desist from early externalizing behaviors. The current study extends previous literature by examining the role of CU behavior in very early childhood in the prediction of externalizing problems in both middle and late childhood, and tests whether other relevant child characteristics, including Theory-of-Mind (ToM) and fearful/inhibited temperament moderate these pathways. Multi-method data, including parent reports of child CU behavior and fearful/inhibited temperament, observations of ToM, and teacher-reported externalizing problems were drawn from a prospective, longitudinal study of children assessed at ages 3, 6, and 10 (N = 241; 48 % female). Results demonstrated that high levels of CU behavior predicted externalizing problems at ages 6 and 10 over and above the effect of earlier externalizing problems at age 3, but that these main effects were qualified by two interactions. High CU behavior was related to higher levels of externalizing problems specifically for children with low ToM and a low fearful/inhibited temperament. The results show that a multitude of child characteristics likely interact across development to increase or buffer risk for child externalizing problems. These findings can inform the development of targeted early prevention and intervention for children with high CU behavior.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology
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    • "Item scores are summed to form a total score which demonstrated adequate internal consistency in the current study (α = .82). Previous research has verified the validity of the ICU in community samples of adolescents and young adults (Byrd, Kahn, & Pardini, 2013; Fanti, Panayiotou, Lombardo, et al., 2015; Fanti, Frick, & Georgiou, 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: The current study adds to prior research by investigating specific (happiness, sadness, surprise, disgust, anger and fear) and general (corrugator and zygomatic muscle activity) facial reactions to violent and comedy films among individuals with varying levels of callous-unemotional (CU) traits and impulsive aggression (IA). Participants at differential risk of CU traits and IA were selected from a sample of 1225 young adults. In Experiment 1, participants (N = 82) facial expressions were recorded while they watched violent and comedy films. Video footage of participants' facial expressions was analysed using FaceReader, a facial coding software that classifies facial reactions. Findings suggested that individuals with elevated CU traits showed reduced facial reactions of sadness and disgust to violent films, indicating low empathic concern in response to victims' distress. In contrast, impulsive aggressors produced specifically more angry facial expressions when viewing violent and comedy films. In Experiment 2 (N = 86), facial reactions were measured by monitoring facial electromyography activity. FaceReader findings were verified by the reduced facial electromyography at the corrugator, but not the zygomatic, muscle in response to violent films shown by individuals high in CU traits. Additional analysis suggested that sympathy to victims explained the association between CU traits and reduced facial reactions to violent films.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · Cognition and Emotion
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