Shared and unique variances of interpersonal callousness and low prosocial behavior

Alan J. Meehan, David J. Hawes, Randall T. Salekin, Edward D. Barker

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7 Citations (Scopus)
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Although low prosocial behavior (LPB) items have been incorporated into youth measures of callousness, it remains unclear from current factor-analytic findings whether callous traits and LPB are best operationalized as a common construct, or distinct dimensions. Using data from a population-representative birth cohort (N=5,463), this study compared four latent factor structures for interpersonal callousness (IC; 6 items) and LPB (5 items) at age 13: (i) unidimensional; (ii) two-factor; (iii) higher-order (with two sub-factors); and (iv) bifactor (one general and two specific residual factors). Alternative models distinguishing positively and negatively worded items were tested for comparative purposes. To assess the external validity of the factors that emerged from the best-fitting model, associations with early parenting styles and psychiatric comorbidities were examined. A bifactor model, achieving invariance for males and females, offered the best fit for these data. However, additional bifactor-specific indices suggested that the specific IC factor did not offer a unique contribution to the total variance over and above the general factor (IC/LPB). Of the remaining factors, IC/LPB was associated with higher levels of harsh parenting, externalizing and internalizing disorder, and social-cognitive difficulties, and lower levels of warm parenting. The LPB factor, meanwhile, was associated with greater social-cognitive difficulties and externalizing disorder, and lower maternal warmth, evoking a phenotype that may be more indicative of the autism spectrum than IC. These findings suggest that the shared variance underlying IC and LPB taps a severe psychiatric phenotype, while the residual variance for LPB may represent a distinct profile of social-cognitive dysfunction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-388
Number of pages13
JournalPsychological Assessment
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


  • Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC)
  • Child psychopathy
  • Interpersonal callousness
  • Low prosocial behavior
  • Psychopathology


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