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Callous-Unemotional Behaviors and Harsh Parenting: Reciprocal Associations across Early Childhood and Moderation by Inherited Risk

  • Christopher J. Trentacosta
  • Rebecca Waller
  • Jenae M. Neiderhiser
  • Daniel S. Shaw
  • Misaki N. Natsuaki
  • Jody M. Ganiban
  • David Reiss
  • Leslie D. Leve
  • Luke W. Hyde
Article

Abstract

Callous-unemotional (CU) behaviors increase children’s risk for subsequent antisocial behavior. This risk process may begin in early childhood with reciprocal pathways between CU behaviors and harsh parenting. In a sample of 561 linked triads of biological mothers, adoptive parents, and adopted children, the present study examined bidirectional links between CU behaviors and harsh parenting across three time points from 18 to 54 months and investigated moderation by inherited risk for psychopathic traits. Child CU behaviors and harsh parenting were measured using adoptive mother and adoptive father reports, and biological mothers provided reports of their personality characteristics. Findings supported reciprocal associations between harsh parenting and CU behaviors during early childhood, especially during the transition from toddlerhood (27 months) to the preschool period (54 months). Moreover, multiple-group analyses showed that level of inherited risk moderated associations between CU behaviors and harsh parenting. Specifically, there were statistically reliable associations between CU behaviors at 27 months and adoptive mothers’ harsh parenting at 54 months, and between adoptive fathers’ harsh parenting at 27 months and CU behaviors at 54 months among children at higher inherited risk, but not among those at lower inherited risk. The findings illustrate the dynamic interplay between parenting, CU behaviors, and heritable risk.

Keywords

Callous-unemotional behaviors Parenting Early childhood Genetic risk 

Abbreviations

CU

Callous-unemotional

Notes

Acknowledgements

The Early Growth and Development Study was supported by grants R01 HD042608 from NICHD, NIDA, and OBSSR, NIH, U.S. PHS (PI Years 1-5: David Reiss; PI Years 6-10: Leslie Leve), R01 DA020585 from NIDA, NIMH, and OBSSR, NIH, U.S. PHS (PI: Jenae Neiderhiser), R01 MH092118 from NIMH, NIH, U. S. PHS (PIs: Jenae Neiderhiser and Leslie Leve), and UG3 OD023389 from the Office of the Director, NIH, U.S. PHS (PIs: Leslie Leve, Jody Ganiban, and Jenae Neiderhiser). Christopher Trentacosta was supported by K01 MH082926 from NIMH, NIH, U.S. PHS. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH. The authors thank the biological parents and adoptive families who participated in this study and the adoption agencies who helped with the recruitment of study participants. They also gratefully acknowledge Rand Conger, John Reid, Xiaojia Ge, and Laura Scaramella for their contributions to the larger project.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The Early Growth and Development Study was approved by the Institutional Review Boards of George Washington University, the Oregon Social Learning Center, the Pennsylvania State University, the University of California, Davis, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Oregon.

Informed Consent

Biological mothers and adoptive parents provided written informed consent. Adoptive parents also provided written informed consent for the adopted child.

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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher J. Trentacosta
    • 1
  • Rebecca Waller
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jenae M. Neiderhiser
    • 4
  • Daniel S. Shaw
    • 5
  • Misaki N. Natsuaki
    • 6
  • Jody M. Ganiban
    • 7
  • David Reiss
    • 8
  • Leslie D. Leve
    • 9
  • Luke W. Hyde
    • 2
  1. 1.Wayne State UniversityDetroitUSA
  2. 2.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  4. 4.The Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  5. 5.University of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  6. 6.University of California RiversideRiversideUSA
  7. 7.George Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA
  8. 8.Yale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  9. 9.University of OregonEugeneUSA

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