Variants of Children with Psychopathic Tendencies in a Community Sample


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.

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

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Correspondence to Yuyin Wang.

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Huang, J., Fan, L., Lin, K. et al. Variants of Children with Psychopathic Tendencies in a Community Sample. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev 51, 563–571 (2020).

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  • Callous-unemotional traits
  • Conduct problems
  • Anxiety
  • Primary psychopath
  • Secondary psychopath