The presence of callous-unemotional (CU) traits delineates a subgroup of youth with severe antisocial behavior. However, debate surrounds the best method to assess CU traits. This study examined the factor structure of the parent-reported Inventory of Callous-Unemotional Traits (ICU) among high-risk 9-year-olds (N = 540) and its predictive validity over 1 year. Confirmatory factor analysis showed support for a three-factor bifactor model and revised two-factor model using a shortened ICU. Within a three-factor bifactor framework the general CU traits factor and specific uncaring factor scores were related to higher externalizing and lower internalizing behavior problems at ages 9.5 and 10.5. Findings were replicated using teacher-reported outcomes. However, results also suggest the need for item refinement and highlight the utility of a two-factor solution using a shortened ICU. In particular, the meaning of the unemotional items is discussed in relation to the conceptualization of CU traits.
Keywords: antisocial behavior; psychometric; psychopathology; psychopathy.
© The Author(s) 2014.