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Title: Callous-Unemotional Traits Moderate Anticipated Guilt and Wrongness Judgments to Everyday Moral Transgressions in Adolescents
Authors: Vasconcelos, Margarida
Viding, Essi
Sebastian, Catherine L.
Faria, Susana
Almeida, Pedro R.
Gonçalves, Óscar F. 
Gonçalves, Rui A.
Sampaio, Adriana 
Seara-Cardoso, Ana
Keywords: Callous-unemotional (CU) traits; Adolescence; Psychopathy; Moral emotion; Moral judgement
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Frontiers Media
Project: PTDC/MHC-PCN/2296/2014 
Serial title, monograph or event: Frontiers in Psychiatry
Volume: 12
Abstract: Callous-unemotional (CU) traits observed during childhood and adolescence are thought to be precursors of psychopathic traits in adulthood. Adults with high levels of psychopathic traits typically present antisocial behavior. Such behavior can be indicative of atypical moral processing. Evidence suggests that moral dysfunction in these individuals may stem from a disruption of affective components of moral processing rather than from an inability to compute moral judgments per se. No study to date has tested if the dissociation between affective and cognitive dimensions of moral processing linked to psychopathic traits in adulthood is also linked to CU traits during development. Here, 47 typically developing adolescents with varying levels of CU traits completed a novel, animated cartoon task depicting everyday moral transgressions and indicated how they would feel in such situations and how morally wrong the situations were. Adolescents with higher CU traits reported reduced anticipated guilt and wrongness appraisals of the transgressions. However, our key finding was a significant interaction between CU traits and anticipated guilt in predicting wrongness judgments. The strength of the association between anticipated guilt and wrongness judgement was significantly weaker for those with higher levels of CU traits. This evidence extends our knowledge on the cognitive-affective processing deficits that may underlie moral dysfunction in youth who are at heightened risk for antisocial behavior and psychopathy in adulthood. Future longitudinal research is required to elucidate whether there is an increased dissociation between different components of moral processing from adolescence to adulthood for those with high psychopathic traits.
ISSN: 1664-0640
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.625328
Rights: openAccess
Appears in Collections:FPCEUC - Artigos em Revistas Internacionais

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