The significance of limited prosocial emotions among externalizing disorders in children

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7 Scopus citations


Limited Prosocial Emotion (LPE) specifier of conduct disorder (CD) includes lack of remorse or guilt, callousness/lack of empathy, unconcern about performance, and shallow/deficient affect. Given the relatively recent inclusion of the LPE specifier in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, fundamental information is still unknown about LPE, such as how common the different domains are, how much they overlap with one another, whether they predict unique variance from each other, and the potential for the LPE specifier as a transdiagnostic facet of externalizing problems. Caregivers (n = 1,50) of children (Mage = 8.42, SD = 2.31) completed a questionnaire assessing individual LPE domains and measures of externalizing symptoms. Results showed that LPE specifier domains were highly related but separable. All LPEs were uniquely associated with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), CD, and overall impairment after controlling for other LPE items, child sex, and ADHD symptoms. Being unconcerned about performance, emotionally manipulative, and having shallow/deficient affect were uniquely associated with ADHD while controlling for ODD and CD symptomatology. Our findings fit with the historical conceptualization of LPE as a unidimensional construct and contributes to the growing evidence of the potential utility of assessing LPE across externalizing disorders in children. Future research should look to replicate and extend our findings in clinical samples of youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)589-600
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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