Regular misbehavior mixed with a lack of guilt and empathy bodes poorly for 7-year-olds
WASHINGTON — When an unrelenting penchant for misbehaving joins forces with lack of emotion, guilt and empathy, 7-year-olds are headed for years of severe conduct problems, a long-term study of English youngsters suggests.
Youngsters who regularly misbehave and get into trouble at age 7, and who also display so-called callous-unemotional traits, frequently stay on a troubled course until at least age 12, according to a new investigation described February 20 in Washington, D.C., at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancenent of Science.
“I’m not suggesting that these children are psychopaths, but callous-unemotional traits can be used to identify kids at risk of persistent, severe antisocial behavior,” said psychologist Nathalie Fontaine of Indiana University in Bloomington, who directed the study. Adult psychopaths similarly show no remorse for crimes and blunted emotional reactions, although they often pos