Callous-unemotional behaviors in early childhood: the development of empathy and prosociality gone awry

Curr Opin Psychol. 2018 Apr;20:11-16. doi: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2017.07.037. Epub 2017 Aug 5.


Callous-unemotional (CU) behaviors are critical to understanding the development of severe forms of aggression and antisocial behavior. CU behaviors include deficits in empathy and prosocial behavior, as well as reduced interpersonal responsivity to others. We review recent research examining CU behaviors in early childhood and the role that parents play in the development of early CU behaviors. We integrate research on the development of empathy and prosociality with that of CU behaviors to propose a developmental model of early CU behaviors that considers person-by-context interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Behavior / psychology*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Empathy*
  • Family Relations
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological