student profile: Miss Jaimie Northam


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Thesis work

Thesis title: Emotional reactivity in children with early onset callous and unemotional traits

Supervisors: David HAWES , Mark DADDS

Thesis abstract:

Children with conduct problems and Callous and Unemotional (CU) traits are less responsive to treatment and show increased propensity for antisocial behaviours into adulthood. These traits in children are defined by a lack of guilt, low concern for others, and shallow affect. However, recent evidence suggests that children with high CU traits can demonstrate emotional responsiveness under specific conditions, notably those portraying attachment threats (Dadds et al., 2015). These findings are controversial, and further investigation is required to assess for replicability, and to gain insight into how children with high CU traits do and do not differ in their responses to emotional (attachment) stimuli. This study aims to replicate and expand on the findings of Dadds and colleagues (2015) by assessing children’s attentional, physiological, cognitive, and behavioural reactions to two scenes from Disney’s the Lion King. Children with varying levels of CU traits will view the scenes and then engage in a free play task and a descriptive play task. Measures of attention, physiological arousal and affect, reflective functioning, and subsequent behaviour, will be taken to explore for differences between typically developing children and children with high CU traits. This study aims to provide insight into how children with high CU traits attend to, attribute meaning, and respond to emotional distress cues in others – universally regarded prerequisites for empathic responding.

Note: This profile is for a student at the University of Sydney. Views presented here are not necessarily those of the University.