Empathy, Self-control, Callous-Unemotionality, and Delinquency: Unique and Shared Developmental Antecedents

Magda Javakhishvili, Alexander T. Vazsonyi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The current investigation tested childhood developmental antecedents of adolescent empathy, self-control, callous-unemotionality, and delinquency, namely difficult temperament, positive socialization experiences, and intelligence; it also tested potential mediation effects of temperament via socialization. Data were collected as part of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Early Child Care and Youth Development Study, which followed N = 1364 children from birth through 15 years (51% female, 80% European American). Early positive socialization (maternal sensitivity, secure attachment, and quality home environment) and temperament variables were assessed from 1 to 36 months, intelligence at age 9, and self-control, empathy, callous-unemotionality, and delinquency at age 15. Based on structural equation modeling hypothesis tests, early positive socialization positively predicted self-control and empathy, and negatively predicted callous-unemotionality and delinquency. Intelligence uniquely and positively predicted empathy. Difficult infant temperament indirectly predicted each of the four traits through early positive socialization. Important research and practical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-402
Number of pages14
JournalChild Psychiatry and Human Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC part of Springer Nature.


  • Callous-unemotional
  • Delinquency
  • Empathy
  • Intelligence
  • Longitudinal
  • Parenting
  • Psychopathy
  • Self-control
  • Temperament

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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