Callous-Unemotional Traits in Individuals Receiving Accommodations in University



Research with antisocial individuals suggests that callous-unemotional (CU) traits, a dimension of psychopathy, consistently predict severe antisocial behaviours and correlate with deficits in recognizing negative emotions, especially fearful facial expressions. However, the generalizability of these findings to non-antisocial populations remains uncertain and largely unexplored. This small, exploratory study aimed to extend this research by measuring CU traits and facial emotion recognition in university students with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities, other psychiatric disorders, and comparison participants with physical/sensory disabilities. As the clinical groups can exhibit deficits in emotion recognition, this study sought to shed light on the candidacy of CU traits as a factor in emotion recognition. Results suggested that individuals in the diagnostic groups possess similar levels of CU traits to the comparison group and that the relationship between CU traits and emotion recognition deficits previously seen in antisocial populations is not present in this sample. Contrary to the hypothesis, those in the diagnostic groups displayed similar levels of accuracy on an emotion recognition task as the comparison group. Recommendations are made for future research to use more specific and representative diagnostic populations to further assess the relationships between CU traits and emotion recognition in non-antisocial populations.


Callous-unemotional traits Emotion recognition Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Learning Disability 



The authors wish to thank Daniel Edelstein at the Academic Data Centre within the Leddy Library at the University of Windsor for his assistance with the statistical analyses and the participants for their willingness to be part of the project.

Conflict of Interest

Franklynn E. Bartol declares no conflict of interest; Carlin J. Miller declares no conflict of interest.

Experiment Participants

The full research protocol was reviewed by the University’s Research Ethics Board. Participants gave full consent prior to participation in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WindsorWindsorCanada

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