What are the associations between parenting, callous-unemotional traits, and antisocial behavior in youth? A systematic review of evidence

Clin Psychol Rev. 2013 Jun;33(4):593-608. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2013.03.001. Epub 2013 Mar 14.


A growing body of research has examined callous-unemotional (CU) traits among samples of antisocial youth. Debate surrounds the malleability of CU traits and their responsiveness to parenting and parent-focused interventions. This review examines evidence from studies that have investigated various relationships between parenting, CU traits, and antisocial behavior (AB). Studies were categorized according to five distinct research questions each addressing associations among parenting, CU traits, and AB in a different way. The results suggest that dimensions of parenting are prospectively related to changes in CU traits. Subgroups of youth with both high levels of CU traits and AB also appear to have experienced negative parenting practices. However, negative parenting is not consistently related to AB in cross-sectional studies for youth with high levels of CU traits. At the same time, parenting-focused interventions appear effective in reducing the level of AB and CU traits in youth. The findings and implications for future studies are critically discussed as they pose challenges for current etiological theories of AB.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Aggression / psychology
  • Child
  • Emotions*
  • Empathy*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Personality Assessment