Alone, aggressive and unwanted: callous unemotional traits in primary school aged children

Jedda Narida Crow

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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[Truncated] The present research sought to examine the assertion that children with Callous Unemotional (C/U) traits in mainstream primary school settings are alone, aggressive, and unwanted. This is important because the presence of C/U traits designate a subgroup of children with more severe and chronic antisocial behaviour who are at increased risk of suspension and exclusion from school and on a developmental trajectory leading to educational failure and criminal behaviour. Furthermore, the presence of C/U traits presents a treatment challenge because children with C/U traits often do not respond positively to typical treatments.

Three sequentially linked studies were conducted. Study One sought to develop and establish the psychometrics of a new instrument suitable for assessing C/U traits in children because there are currently few existing instruments specifically developed to solely measure these traits in children. Following a review of the relevant literature and existing instruments, an item pool of 48 items was generated for inclusion in a draft instrument. Following consultation with experts in the field 40 of these items were retained for testing. To initially validate the draft instrument it was presented to 20 postgraduate Master of Educational Psychology professional training programme students and three teachers/psychologists in Primary Behaviour Centres (for children with challenging behaviours). Feedback on the face and content appropriateness of the newly developed scale was satisfactory. A pilot sample of 30 primary school students from Grades Three, Four, Five, Six and Seven (ages 7 to 12 years) then completed the draft instrument. Examination of the item statistics revealed that affectivity ranged from .37 to .84 and discrimination from -.011 to .74. Consequently, four items were removed from the draft scale. The internal reliability across the scale was found to be satisfactory (α = .94). The scale was tentatively named the Children’s Affective Traits Inventory and its readability level was assessed. This was considered appropriate, comprehensible and easy for Australian school students enrolled in Grade Three.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
  • Houghton, Stephen, Supervisor
  • Glasgow, Kenneth, Supervisor
Publication statusUnpublished - 2015


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