Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 47–58 | Cite as

Consistency of Limited Prosocial Emotions Across Occasions, Sources, and Settings: Trait- or State-Like Construct in a Young Community Sample?

  • Raquel Seijas
  • Mateu Servera
  • Gloria García-Banda
  • G. Leonard BurnsEmail author
  • Jonathan Preszler
  • Christopher T. Barry
  • Kaylee Litson
  • Christian Geiser


Limited prosocial emotions (LPE, also referred to as callous-unemotional [CU] traits) are considered to reflect a more trait- than state-like construct. Our first objective was to determine the amount true score variance in CU/LPE that was consistent (trait consistency) over two occasions (12-month interval) of measurement versus specific (occasion-specificity) to each occasion. Our second objective was to determine the convergent validity of the consistent (trait) and occasion-specific (state) variance in CU/LPE symptom ratings within and across settings. Mothers, fathers, primary teachers, and ancillary teachers rated the CU/LPE symptoms in sample of 811 Spanish children (55% boys) on two occasions (i.e., end of first and second grades). CU/LPE symptom ratings showed more trait consistency than occasion-specificity for mothers and fathers, slightly more occasion-specificity than trait consistency for primary teachers, and much more occasion-specificity than trait consistency for ancillary teachers. Convergent validity for trait consistency was strong for fathers with mothers but weaker for primary with ancillary teachers. There was essentially no convergent validity for either trait consistency or occasion-specificity across home and school settings. CU/LPE symptom ratings within this age range represented a more trait-like construct for mothers and fathers and more state-like construct for primary teachers and ancillary teachers. In contrast, earlier studies showed ADHD and ODD ratings to be trait-like within and across home and school. The study of CU/LPE in young children should therefore include multiple sources in multiple settings across occasions to better understand the consistent and occasion-specific nature of the CU/LPE construct.


Prosocial emotions Limited prosocial emotions specifier Callous unemotional traits Latent state-trait measurement models 



Two Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness grants, PSI2011-23254 and PSI2014-52605-R (Spanish Government), and a predoctoral fellowship co-financed by the European Social Fund and the Balearic Islands Government (FPI/1451/2012) supported this research. Award number R01DA034770-01 from the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA) supported Christian Geiser. We thank Cristina Trias and Cristina Solano for their help in data collection.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors of the current study have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

The research protocol was approved by the IRB of the University of the Balearic Islands.

Informed Consent

Mothers, fathers, and teachers provided written informed consent for participation in the study.

Supplementary material

10802_2018_415_MOESM1_ESM.docx (96 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 95 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raquel Seijas
    • 1
  • Mateu Servera
    • 1
  • Gloria García-Banda
    • 1
  • G. Leonard Burns
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author return OK on get
  • Jonathan Preszler
    • 2
  • Christopher T. Barry
    • 2
  • Kaylee Litson
    • 4
  • Christian Geiser
    • 4
  1. 1.University of the Balearic IslandsPalma (Balearic Islands)Spain
  2. 2.Washington State UniversityPullmanUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA
  4. 4.Utah State UniversityLoganUSA

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