Callous-unemotional traits and the attentional bias towards emotional stimuli: Testing the moderating role of emotional and behavioural problems among high-risk adolescents

Edina Szabó, J. Halász, Antony Morgan, Z. Demetrovics, Gyöngyi Kökönyei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Former studies demonstrated that antisocial youth with callous-unemotional (CU) traits are impaired in the processing of negative emotional stimuli. The aim of the current study was to explore the moderating role of different behavioural (i.e. conduct problems, hyperactivity-inattention) and emotional problems (i.e. internalizing symptoms) in the relationship between CU traits and attentional bias towards emotional stimuli. Besides using self-report measures, attentional bias was tested by an affective dot-probe task in a high-risk sample of 102 adolescent boys (M age = 16.34 years; SD = 1.32). CU traits were related to reduced attention to emotionally distressing pictures. Furthermore, conduct problems significantly moderated the relationship between CU traits and attention to distress cues. These findings highlight the importance of considering potential moderators to the well-established link between CU traits and deficits in response to negative emotional cues.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019



  • attentional bias
  • behavioural problems
  • Callous-unemotional traits
  • emotional problems
  • high-risk sample

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this