Date of Award

12-1-2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Cashel, Mary Louise

Abstract

The primary objective of the current study involved examining the influence of callous-unemotional (CU) traits on the aggressive behavior and criminal offending of female juveniles committed to a secure juvenile justice facility. A history of physical abuse was examined as a potential moderator of these relationships. The deviant behaviors of peers were examined with respect to the outcomes for the entire sample. A total of 63 female youth incarcerated at a Midwestern state correctional facility participated. Overall levels of callous-unemotional traits were not related to involvement in delinquent activities. However, specific aspects of CU traits were related to engagement in certain types of criminal behavior. Peer delinquency was related to self-reported engagement in criminal activities generally, as well as offenses against persons specifically. CU traits demonstrated significant relationships with measures of aggression, but no significant differences were found with respect to the relationship of CU traits with different types of aggression. Having a history of physical abuse was unrelated to levels of aggression and involvement in delinquency. These findings have implications for prevention and intervention programs in correctional settings and the community. However, potential problems with data collection and measurement of key variables are discussed. Additional research needs to be conducted to determine the mechanisms of the relationships found in this study.

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