To what extent does punishment insensitivity explain the relationship between callous-unemotional traits and academic performance in secondary school students?

Published on Sep 1, 2021in British Journal of Educational Psychology
· DOI :10.1111/BJEP.12394
Suhlim Hwang2
Estimated H-index: 2
(IOE: Institute of Education),
Jennifer L. Allen14
Estimated H-index: 14
(University of Bath)
+ 1 AuthorsElisabeth Bird2
Estimated H-index: 2
(IOE: Institute of Education)
Sources
Abstract
BACKGROUND Callous-unemotional (CU) traits are related to low achievement but not to deficits in verbal ability, commonly regarded as a major risk factor for poor academic outcomes in antisocial youth. This suggests that CU traits may have utility in explaining heterogeneous risk pathways for poor school performance in antisocial children. Reduced sensitivity to teacher discipline has been suggested as a potential explanation for the association between CU traits and low achievement, given its importance in facilitating engagement in learning. This study is the first to examine punishment insensitivity as a potential mechanism explaining the relationship between CU traits and poor achievement. AIM The current study investigated the indirect pathway from CU traits via the predictor of punishment insensitivity to English, Maths, and Science grades. SAMPLE A total of 437 English secondary school students aged 11 to 14 years (49% girls). METHODS We conducted a mediation analysis within a structural equation modelling framework. CU traits and punishment insensitivity were assessed using child report questionnaires and academic grades were obtained from school records. RESULTS CU traits were indirectly associated with low academic grades in Maths and Science, but not English, via punishment insensitivity, controlling for child age, gender, single parent household status, free school meals eligibility, externalizing problems, and classroom effects. CONCLUSIONS Findings indicated that reduced sensitivity to discipline forms a pathway linking CU traits to poor performance in Maths and Science. Teachers may therefore need additional support to implement discipline effectively with children high in CU traits in order to prevent poor academic outcomes.
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Little research has examined how children with conduct problems and concurrent callous-unemotional traits (CPCU) emotionally and behaviorally respond to time-out. This pilot study examined the dist...
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Considerable evidence now exists for callous and unemotional (CU) traits as markers for a high-risk pathway to child and adolescent conduct problems implicating unique risk processes and treatment ...
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Callous-unemotional (CU) traits have been associated with atypical responses to reward and punishment cues, with evidence suggesting that such traits may shape caregiver use of reward and punishment practices over time. To date, research has predominantly focused on parental rewards and discipline, with far less attention paid to teacher behavior management strategies. The first aim of the current study was to investigate the potential moderating effect of CU traits on the relationship between t...
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Callous-unemotional (CU) traits and male gender are both known risk factors for poor academic outcomes in children and adolescents. However, despite gender differences in CU trait severity, comorbid difficulties and correlates of CU traits, research has yet to examine whether the CU traits and male gender may work together to increase risk for poor academic performance. That is, whether boys high in CU traits perform more poorly across academic disciplines than girls high in these traits. This s...
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The present study attempted to address developmental differences within the large group of youth with conduct problems through an examination of the relationship between callous-unemotional traits and academic outcomes in an effort to expand the field’s understanding of heterogeneity in outcomes associated with behavior problems. Data were collected from a cohort of 3rd grade students (N = 942; 51 % female; 45.6 % Hispanic/Latino, 41.1 % Black/African American, 4.7 % Non-Hispanic White; mean age...
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Poor educational outcomes are common among children with antisocial behavior problems, including among a subgroup of antisocial children with callous-unemotional traits, who show deficits in empathy, guilt, and prosociality. However, few studies have explored the unique contributions of antisocial behavior and callous-unemotional traits to school outcomes and most prior studies have been conducted in Western countries. The current study thus tested associations between callous-unemotional traits...
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