Research Mentor and Department
Meghan Rose Donohue & Joan Luby, Department of Psychiatry
Callous-unemotional behaviors, such as lack of empathy and guilt, are critical in understanding the development of certain mental pathologies. Studies have found that these traits are risk factors for disorders such as sociopathy and psychopathy. Virtually no studies have examined callous behaviors in the preschool period. The purpose of this study was to examine parenting characteristics that predict preschoolers’ greater callous-unemotional behaviors. This study examined data from the PCIT-ED study, a randomized control trial (RCT) of a novel treatment for depression for children aged 3.11-6.11 years old (N = 240). Callous behaviors were assessed by previously validated measures such as the Willoughby et al. Child Behavior Checklist. Parenting characteristics were assessed by a 32-item self-report measure of parenting style called the Parenting Style and Dimensions Questionnaire (PDSQ). From this survey, we examined the authoritative and authoritarian parenting subscales. Study findings suggest that greater authoritarian parenting was associated with children’s greater callous-unemotional behavior. Parenting styles may be an important target of early interventions aimed at preventing the development of depression and personality disorders in children.