The Influence of Conduct Problems and Callous-Unemotional Traits on Academic Development Among Youth

Jacqueline M. Horan, Joshua L. Brown, Stephanie M. Jones, J. Lawrence Aber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study attempted to address developmental differences within the large group of youth with conduct problems through an examination of the relationship between callous-unemotional traits and academic outcomes in an effort to expand the field’s understanding of heterogeneity in outcomes associated with behavior problems. Data were collected from a cohort of 3rd grade students (N = 942; 51 % female; 45.6 % Hispanic/Latino, 41.1 % Black/African American, 4.7 % Non-Hispanic White; mean age = 8.07 years) in eighteen public elementary schools, as well as their parents and teachers. Hierarchical linear modeling revealed that callous-unemotional traits were associated with lower quality student–teacher relationships and worse performance on standardized math and reading exams over and above the effects of conduct problems. These findings suggest that school-based interventions may be particularly effective in ameliorating some of the deficits noted within this subset of youth exhibiting conduct problems. This finding has important policy implications as the field of developmental science attempts to design and enrich programs that focus on improving social-emotional learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1245-1260
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Academic achievement
  • Callous-unemotional traits
  • Conduct problems
  • Student–teacher relationship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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