Psychopathy and conduct problems in children

J Abnorm Psychol. 1994 Nov;103(4):700-7. doi: 10.1037//0021-843x.103.4.700.


Factor analysis of a measure of psychopathy was conducted in a sample of 95 clinic-referred children between the ages of 6 and 13 years. These analyses revealed 2 dimensions of behavior, one associated with impulsivity and conduct problems (I/CP) and one associated with the interpersonal and motivational aspects of psychopathy (callous/unemotional: CU). In a subset of this sample (n = 64), analyses indicated that scores on the I/CP factor were highly associated with traditional measures of conduct problems. In contrast, scores derived from the CU factor were only moderately associated with measures of conduct problems and exhibited a different pattern of associations on several criteria that have been associated with psychopathy (e.g., sensation seeking) or childhood antisocial behavior (e.g., low intelligence, poor school achievement, and anxiety). These analyses suggest that psychopathic personality features and conduct problems are independent, yet interacting, constructs in children, analogous to findings in the adult literature.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders*
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Psychopathology