Date of Award

12-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Paula J. Fite

Committee Members

Todd M. Moore, Deborah Welsh, Elizabeth Johnson

Abstract

The current study examined bidirectional associations between callous-unemotional (CU) traits and parenting dimensions and evaluated whether these associations changed as children aged. Furthermore, this study extended the literature by examining whether these relations were moderated by delinquent peer affiliation and/or parental depression. Proposed relations were examined using a longitudinal sample of 120 aggressive boys (59.6%) and girls (40.4%) who were in the 4th grade (M = 10.56 years, SD = .56) at baseline and were followed over four years. A series of generalized estimating equation [GEE] models revealed reciprocal relations between CU traits and corporal punishment. Consistent with expectation, corporal punishment predicted increases in CU traits and surprisingly CU traits predicted a trend for decreases in corporal punishment (p = .09) over time. There was a trend for poor involvement to predict increases in CU traits (p = .06) over time, however the inverse relation was not found. CU traits, poor positive parenting and inconsistent discipline were unrelated in both directions. Furthermore, the effects of CU traits on parenting dimensions and the effects of parenting dimensions appeared to be stable over time, with one exception. There was a trend for the negative association between CU traits and inconsistent discipline to strengthen as children aged (p = .08). Parental depression moderated the link between CU traits and poor positive parenting as well as the link between corporal punishment and CU traits. Further evaluation of significant interactions revealed that at low levels of depression there was a trend for CU traits to predict decreases in poor positive parenting (p = .08); however CU traits were unrelated to parenting at high levels of depression. Moreover, at high levels of depression, corporal punishment was predictive of increases in CU traits, but was unrelated to CU traits at low levels of depression. Finally, delinquent peer affiliation did not moderate any of the proposed relations. Limitations, future directions and clinical implications are discussed.

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