Date of Award

Fall 12-16-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Applied Developmental Psychology



Major Professor

Paul J. Frick

Second Advisor

Robert D. Laird

Third Advisor

Gerald J. LaHoste

Fourth Advisor

Monica A. Marsee

Fifth Advisor

Sonia L. Rubens


Callous-unemotional (CU) traits, an affective component of psychopathy, are associated with problematic outcomes in social relationships in adolescents. However, their association with problematic romantic relationships in young adults has not been the focus of research. In a community sample of 216 college students (167 females) between the ages of 18 to 50, the current study examined the association between CU traits and several important romantic relationship outcomes. Results indicated that CU traits showed positive associations with dominance and partner’s perceived submissiveness, but negative associations with relationship satisfaction, even after controlling for impulsivity and antisocial behavior. On the other hand, antisocial behavior showed unique positive associations with short-term mating, psychological aggression towards partner, and partner’s perceived CU traits, even after controlling for CU traits. Further, results indicated that CU traits, impulsivity, and antisocial behavior showed positive associations with physical aggression towards partner. However, once these variables were entered in a multiple regression model simultaneously, none of these associations remained significant, suggesting it is the shared variance across these three variables that accounts for physical aggression. Implications for research and treatment are discussed.


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