Conflict of interest statement: No conflicts declared.
Early concern and disregard for others as predictors of antisocial behavior
Article first published online: 2 JUL 2012
© 2012 The Author. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry © 2012 Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health.
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Volume 54, Issue 2, pages 157–166, February 2013
How to Cite
Rhee, S. H., Friedman, N. P., Boeldt, D. L., Corley, R. P., Hewitt, John. K., Knafo, A., Lahey, B. B., Robinson, J., Van Hulle, C. A., Waldman, I. D., Young, S. E. and Zahn-Waxler, C. (2013), Early concern and disregard for others as predictors of antisocial behavior. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 54: 157–166. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2012.02574.x
- Issue published online: 16 JAN 2013
- Article first published online: 2 JUL 2012
- Accepted for publication: 2 May 2012
- Antisocial behavior;
- concern for others;
- disregard for others
Background: Prediction of antisocial behavior is important, given its adverse impact on both the individuals engaging in antisocial behavior and society. Additional research identifying early predictors of future antisocial behavior, or antisocial propensity, is needed. The present study tested the hypothesis that both concern for others and active disregard for others in distress in toddlers and young children predict antisocial behavior during middle childhood and adolescence.
Methods: A representative sample of same-sex twins (N = 956) recruited in Colorado was examined. Mother-rated and researcher-observed concern and disregard for others assessed at age 14–36 months were examined as predictors of parent- (age 4–12), teacher- (age 7–12), and self-reported (age 17) antisocial behavior.
Results: Observed disregard for others predicted antisocial behavior assessed by three different informants (parents, teachers, and self), including antisocial behavior assessed 14 years later. It also predicted a higher order antisocial behavior factor (β = .58, p < .01) after controlling for observed concern for others. Mother-rated disregard for others predicted parent-reported antisocial behavior. Contrary to predictions, neither mother-rated nor observed concern for others inversely predicted antisocial behavior. Results of twin analyses suggested that the covariation between observed disregard for others and antisocial behavior was due to shared environmental influences.
Conclusions: Disregard for others in toddlerhood/early childhood is a strong predictor of antisocial behavior in middle childhood and adolescence. The results suggest the potential need for early assessment of disregard for others and the development of potential interventions.