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Does the Interplay of Callous-Unemotional Traits and Moral Disengagement Underpin Disruptive Behavior? A Systematic Review

Authors Paciello M, Ballarotto G, Cerniglia L, Muratori P

Received 20 July 2019

Accepted for publication 8 January 2020

Published 3 February 2020 Volume 2020:11 Pages 9—20


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Alastair Sutcliffe

Marinella Paciello,1 Giulia Ballarotto,2 Luca Cerniglia,1 Pietro Muratori3

1Faculty of Psychology, Uninettuno Telematic International University, Rome, Italy; 2Department of Dynamic and Clinical Psychology, “Sapienza” University, Rome, Italy; 3IRCCS Fondazione Stella Maris, Scientific, Institute of Child Neurology and Psychiatry, Calambrone, Pisa, Italy

Correspondence: Marinella Paciello
Faculty of Psychology, Uninettuno Telematic International University, Corso Vittorio Emanule II, Rome 39 00186, Italy

Abstract: Disruptive behavior could represent an (un)moral behavioral component of multi-dimensional construct of morality that includes affective and cognitive aspects. Thus, it is pivotal to investigate their interplay between affective and cognitive processes the better to understand how to intervene to contrast disruptive behavior and its antisocial outcomes. The present review has examined the relationship between affective and cognitive processes implied in moral functioning by focusing on callous-unemotional traits (CU) and moral disengagement. Starting from 1005 records identified by PsycINFO, Pubmed, and Pubpsych, only 13 studies have been selected. These studies show different theoretical approaches and methodologies and put in evidence the nuances of possible interactions of CU and moral disengagement during adolescence based on different research field. Overall, most of the scholars seem to conclude that different interplay can be plausible, suggesting that it is likely that during the adolescence the influence of moral disengagement and CU is reciprocal and longitudinal. Specifically, in adolescents with Disruptive Behavior Disorders CU and moral disengagement can move together in organizing and becoming chronic of antisocial affective-cognitive system, and in particular moral disengagement may give a free way to engage in disruptive behavior.

Keywords: disruptive behavior, callous-unemotional traits, moral disengagement, adolescence, morality

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