Declaration of interest
Early callous–unemotional behaviours identify children at risk for antisocial behaviour. Recent work suggests that the high heritability of callous–unemotional behaviours is qualified by interactions with positive parenting.
To examine whether heritable temperament dimensions of fearlessness and low affiliative behaviour are associated with early callous–unemotional behaviours and whether parenting moderates these associations.
Using an adoption sample (n = 561), we examined pathways from biological mother self-reported fearlessness and affiliative behaviour to child callous–unemotional behaviours via observed child fearlessness and affiliative behaviour, and whether adoptive parent observed positive parenting moderated pathways.
Biological mother fearlessness predicted child callous–unemotional behaviours via earlier child fearlessness. Biological mother low affiliative behaviour predicted child callous–unemotional behaviours, although not via child affiliative behaviours. Adoptive mother positive parenting moderated the fearlessness to callous–unemotional behaviour pathway.
Heritable fearlessness and low interpersonal affiliation traits contribute to the development of callous–unemotional behaviours. Positive parenting can buffer these risky pathways.
The Early Growth and Development Study was supported by R01 and R56 HD042608 from NICHD, NIDA and OBSSR, NIH, U.S. PHS (principal investigator (PI) years 1–5: D.R.; PI years 6–10 and on the R56: L.L.); and R01 DA020585 from NIDA, NIMH and OBSSR, NIH, U.S. PHS (PI: J.N.). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development or the National Institutes of Health. C.T. was supported in his efforts by K01 MH082926.
- © The Royal College of Psychiatrists 2016.
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