Semester of Graduation

Summer 2021


Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



Callous-unemotional (CU) traits describe a pattern of limited prosocial emotions, defined by a lack of guilt, lack of empathy, lack of concern about performance in important activities, and shallow or deficient affect. These traits have been consistently related to antisocial outcomes and poor interpersonal functioning with parents, peers, and romantic partners. Limited research has investigated the direction of effects between CU traits and poor interpersonal relationships over time, particularly in samples of adolescents and young adults who experience significant changes in their social relationships. The present study investigated the direction of longitudinal associations between CU traits and warmth in relationships with parents, friends, and romantic partners over a five-year span in a sample of justice-involved adolescents. Using a series of multiple-panel cross-lagged panel models, consistent evidence was found that CU traits predict reductions in relationship warmth with parents and friends over time. However, CU traits only predicted reduced warmth in romantic relationships when participants reached young adulthood. In addition, although support for bidirectional effects varied across relationships, the most consistent evidence for low relationship warmth predicting future CU traits was found in peer relationships. Current findings suggest that CU traits negatively impact interpersonal relationships, further emphasizing the need for interventions for individuals with elevated CU traits. Finally, these findings highlight the importance of friendships in adolescent prosocial development.

Committee Chair

Frick, Paul



Available for download on Thursday, May 18, 2028