Conceptualizing Callous-Unemotional Traits in Preschool through Confirmatory Factor and Network Analysis

Pevitr S. Bansal, Patrick K. Goh, Christine A. Lee, Michelle M. Martel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Callous – unemotional (CU) traits are a key factor in understanding the persistence and severity of conduct problems. Most research has used confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to examine the structure of CU traits; however, most CFA models have yielded marginally acceptable fit, and little research has examined the structure of CU traits in preschool. This gap highlights the need for a more nuanced approach in understanding the structure of CU traits during preschool via statistical examination of inter – item relationships (i.e., network analysis). Therefore, the current study used both CFA and network analysis in a sample of 104 preschool children (M age = 4.76). CFA results best supported a two – factor structure of the ICU, comprised of callous and uncaring factors, using 12 of the original 24 items from the ICU, although fit was only marginally acceptable. Network community analyses identified four clusters of items characterized as Uncaring, Lack of Remorse, Unconcerned, and Callous. Items identified as most central to the network were: Does not care who he/she hurts to get what they want, Does not care if he/she is in trouble, and Seems very cold and uncaring. Overall, network analysis suggests several important potential refinements to CU structure including possible alternative factor models which merit consideration in future work. In addition, the identified central items could be useful for screening.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-550
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Antisocial
  • Callous-unemotional
  • Confirmatory factor analysis
  • Network Analysis
  • Preschool

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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