A lack of empathy in adolescence may be an early indicator of psychopathy

In 47 adolescents studied, researchers concluded that a lack of empathy is possibly an early indicator of psychopathy.

The study appeared online in Frontiers in Psychiatry.

The adolescents studied were between the ages of 15 and 18. They were given video animations to watch during the study, which depicted scenarios of moral transgressions. The participants were asked to provide their level of guilt and their input on its morality after watching the video animation.

Among the young participants, callous-unemotional traits were found to be early indicators of psychopathy later in adulthood, the study found.

From the findings: “This evidence extends our knowledge on the cognitive-affective processing deficits that may underlie moral dysfunction in youth who are at heightened risk for antisocial behavior and psychopathy in adulthood.”

“Future longitudinal research is required to elucidate whether there is an increased dissociation between different components of moral processing from adolescence to adulthood for those with high psychopathic traits,” the findings also showed.

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