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Title: Testing developmental models of interpersonal callousness and low prosocial behaviour
Author: Meehan, Alan
ISNI:       0000 0004 8500 0017
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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Interpersonal callousness (IC; e.g. grandiose, manipulative, low empathy/guilt, shallow affect) designates more severe and persistent antisocial behaviour in youth. However, IC appears to be heterogeneous, based on epidemiological studies. The current thesis sought to investigate this with regard to low prosocial behaviour (LPB) and anxiety. Specifically, four outstanding research questions were empirically addressed using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, a prospective birth cohort. First, we estimated the relative shared and unique variance underlying IC and LPB at age 13, and compared the resulting factors on levels of childhood risk and psychiatric comorbidity (Chapter 3). We identified a general factor (IC/LPB), alongside a unique residual factor for LPB, with the IC/LPB factor associating with higher levels of prenatal risk, poor parenting, and externalising psychopathology. Second, we followed up these IC/LPB and residual LPB factors by testing prospective associations with early-adult mental and physical health, and nonparticipation in education, employment, or training (NEET; Chapter 4). IC/LPB was indirectly associated with mental (via adolescent delinquency) and physical health problems (via physical inactivity), and was directly associated with later NEET status. Third, we classified and compared low- and high-anxiety IC subtypes on prenatal and early postnatal risk, pre-adolescent psychopathology and school-based functioning (Chapter 5). Co-occurrence of anxiety and IC indexed youth with greater risk exposure and psychiatric comorbidity, and worse academic performance, than their low-anxious IC counterparts. Finally, we compared genome-wide DNA methylation at birth between 'chronic-low' and typically-prosocial children (Chapter 6). Methylation at two sites differentiated these developmental trajectories. Higher methylation at one probe, annotated to the SGCE/PEG10 gene, was also associated with lower empathy and greater social-cognitive dysfunction. Overall, current findings significantly advance knowledge of the distinct risk factors and developmental outcomes that can be elucidated based on overlap between, and heterogeneity within, IC and LPB.
Supervisor: Barker, Edward Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available