Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Previous studies of youth antisocial behavior have explored relationships between social information processing, empathy, or callous-unemotional traits and antisocial behavior. However, the relationships among all four constructs have not been tested. The current study investigates whether social information processing mediates the relationship between empathy and antisocial behavior for adjudicated youth (n=150, mean age = 15.21 years, SD = 1.40 years, range = 11-17), whether callous-unemotional traits moderate that mediation, and how the relationships differ for girls and boys. Youth were assessed individually at two detention centers and the staff and teachers at the detention centers completed written measures. There was support for a three-factor model of empathy consisting of perspective taking, empathic concern, and personal distress. For both girls and boys, lower perspective taking and empathic concern predicted deficits in social information processing and higher self-reported antisocial behavior. For girls, higher personal distress also predicted deficits in social information processing and higher antisocial behavior. Youth high and low on callous-unemotional traits differed on empathy, SIP, and antisocial behavior, indicating support for distinct subtypes of antisocial adolescents. Differences among antisocial adolescents by gender and callousunemotional subtype indicate a need for tailored interventions.