Emotional reactivity in referred youth with disruptive behavior disorders: The role of the callous-unemotional traits

Gabriele Masi, Annarita Milone, Simone Pisano, Francesca Lenzi, Pietro Muratori, Ilaria Gemo, Laura Bianchi, Luigi Mazzone, Valentina Postorino, Veronica Sanges, Riccardo Williams, Stefano Vicari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Deficits in emotional reactivity are frequently reported in Disruptive Behavior Disorders (DBDs). A deficit in prosocial emotions, namely the callous unemotional trait. s (CU), may be a mediator of emotional reactivity. Our aim is to investigate subjective emotional reactivity towards visual stimuli with different affective valence in youth. s with DBDs and healthy controls. The clinical sample included 62 youths with DBDs (51 males, 8 to 16 years, mean 11.3±2.1 years), the control group 53 subjects (36 males, 8 to 16 years, mean 10.8±1.5 years). The groups were compared using the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), the Inventory of Callous-Unemotional Traits (ICU), and the International Affective Picture System (IAPS), which explores the affective (pleasant/unpleasant emotional reaction) and arousal (low/high intensity of emotion) dimensions. The DBD group presented higher scores in externalizing and internalizing CBCL scores, and in ICU callous and indifferent subscales. At the IAPS, DBD patients differed from controls in the affective valence of the images, rating less unpleasant neutral and negative images. The CU traits were the only predictor of emotional reactivity in the DBD sample. A less aversive way to interpret neutral and negative stimuli may explain why DBD patients are less responsive to negative reinforcements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)426-432
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 15 2014


  • Antisocial behavior
  • Callous-unemotional traits
  • Conduct disorder
  • Oppositional defiant disorder
  • Psychopathy
  • Subjective emotional reactivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Medicine(all)


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