Trait impulsivity and callous‐unemotional traits as predictors of inhibitory control and risky choices among high‐risk adolescents

Rotem Leshem, Rose King
Published Online:
04 Aug 2020
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 56 Issue 2

Additional Options

Trait impulsivity and callous‐unemotional traits are associated with behavioural problems among high‐risk adolescents. While both are known to influence behaviour, the nature of their expression in high‐risk behaviours, particularly those related to inhibitory control, is not well understood. In the current, preliminary study, we examined whether and how these traits predicted deficits in behaviour driven by bottom‐up, automatic versus deliberate, top‐down inhibitory processes among high‐risk adolescents. Two go/no‐go task variants, emotional and non‐emotional, were used to assess reactive response inhibition, and the Balloon Analogue Risk Task was used to assess the ability to resist deliberate risky choices. The results showed that the two types of self‐reported trait measures were differentially associated with performance on the two types of behavioural inhibition tasks. Trait impulsivity predicted non‐emotional inhibitory control whereas callous‐unemotional traits predicted risky choices. The results also showed that the emotions task elicited slower reaction times and higher false alarm rates than did the letters task, and that participants had greater difficulty inhibiting responses to negatively than to positively valenced no‐go stimuli. While preliminary, the results suggest that the interplay between trait impulsivity and callous‐unemotional traits is an important determinant of inhibitory behaviour in this high‐risk adolescents.

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