The Influence of Parenting on the Development of Callous- Unemotional Traits in Children and Adolescents


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  • Speaker: Becky Waller, Postdoc, Developmental Psychology, University of Michigan
  • Host Department: Psychology
  • Date: 09/16/2013
  • Time: 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

  • Location: 4464A East Hall

  • Description:

    The influence of parenting on the development of callous-unemotional traits in children and adolescents

    A growing body of research has examined callous–unemotional (CU) behavior among samples of antisocial youth. Debate surrounds the malleability of CU behavior and its responsiveness to parenting and parent-focused interventions. In this talk, I will present the findings of my PhD thesis, including the results of a systematic review of 30 studies, and three empirical studies, which each examined associations between parenting, CU traits, and antisocial behavior among youth. Data for the empirical studies were collected from a multi-ethnic and high-risk sample of mother-child dyads (N = 731; 49% female) at ages 2-4 years old, and included multi-method observed measures of parenting. Taken together, the findings from both the systematic review and the empirical studies suggest that youth CU behavior appears more malleable than previously thought, particularly during the toddler years. In particular, parental harshness and warmth appear to be important targets of investigation for future empirical and intervention studies. I will end the presentation by discussing some future directions for this work and for my time here in Michigan.



    Dr. Waller is interested in understanding the behavioral and personality precursors of psychopathy from a developmental psychopathology standpoint. Her research to date has focused on linking early risk in the environment of very young children (including parental harshness and low levels of parental warmth) to increases in callous and unemotional (CU) behavior. She is interested in understanding better ways to conceptualize and measure CU behavior in samples of children and adolescents, and how we can use this research to inform models of antisocial behavior development and preventative interventions, particularly interventions that involve working with parents. Dr. Waller is also interested in understanding the neural processes that underpin displays of CU behavior, and how these are affected by and interact with the environment to further increase risk for children developing more severe and entrenched forms of antisocial behavior.

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