*Bégin V, Déry M, Toupin J, Le Corff Y, Lemelin JP. (2018). Contribution of psychopathic traits to changing behavioral problems of girls and boys of primary school age. Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science/Revue Canadienne des Sciences du Comportement. 50(2): 119–126.
Early onset conduct problems (CP) are at high risk of persistence throughout childhood. In addition, previous research has suggested that CP are at higher risk of persistence when they co-occur with psychopathic traits. Among the three dimensions of psychopathic traits in children (callous-unemotional, narcissism, and impulsivity), research has mainly focused on callous-unemotional traits, and thus the predictive value of the three psychopathic traits dimensions among children with severe CP remains unclear. The present longitudinal study aimed to establish the relative contributions of the three dimensions of psychopathic traits in predicting later CP among elementary school-age children who showed severe CP at study inception, and to test for gender differences in these associations. The 213 participants were children younger than 10 years old at study inception who received professional services in school setting because of clinically significant CP. Multivariate regression analyses showed that among the three dimensions of psychopathic traits, only impulsivity predicted later CP over and above initial levels of CP and family income over a three year period. This relation was only observed in boys. However, the modest internal consistency of the callous-unemotional scale may have reduced the probability of detecting a significant association between these traits and later CP. Nonetheless, these results underline the importance of the impulsivity dimension of psychopathic traits in the clinical assessment of young boys who display an early onset pattern of severe CP.