Variants of Children with Psychopathic Tendencies in a Community Sample

  • Jiasheng Huang
  • Linlin Fan
  • Kexiu Lin
  • Yuyin WangEmail author
Original Article


To investigate the heterogeneity of children with psychopathic tendencies, this study identified heterogenous subgroups among a community sample of children based on their callous-unemotional (CU) traits, conduct problems (CP), and anxiety. A latent profile analysis classified 1861 primary school students (age 6–14) into four subgroups based on parent-report CU traits, CP and anxiety: low-risk children (i.e., low in CU traits, CP, and anxiety), anxious children (i.e., high in anxiety, low in CU traits and CP), primary variants of children with psychopathic tendencies (i.e., high in CU traits and CP, low in anxiety), and secondary variants of children with psychopathic tendencies (i.e., high in CU traits, CP, and anxiety). In particular, the secondary variants evidenced higher levels of CU traits, CP, and anxiety than the primary variants. Our findings extend the heterogeneity of psychopathy to childhood and encourage future research to examine the developmental trajectories of psychopathy.


Callous-unemotional traits Conduct problems Anxiety Primary psychopath Secondary psychopath 



This study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31700961); and the Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province, China (2017A030310423).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social and Behavioural SciencesCity University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  2. 2.Department of PsychologySun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouChina
  3. 3.Affiliated Shenzhen Maternity & Child Healthcare HospitalSouthern Medical UniversityShenzhenChina

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