The Influence of Antisocial Behavior and Callous-Unemotional Traits on Trajectories of School Engagement and Achievement in South-Korean Children

Suhlim Hwang, Rebecca Waller, David J. Hawes, Jennifer L. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (SciVal)


Poor educational outcomes are common among children with antisocial behavior problems, including among a subgroup of antisocial children with callous-unemotional traits, who show deficits in empathy, guilt, and prosociality. However, few studies have explored the unique contributions of antisocial behavior and callous-unemotional traits to school outcomes and most prior studies have been conducted in Western countries. The current study thus tested associations between callous-unemotional traits, antisocial behavior, and trajectories of school outcomes among South Korean children. Participants aged 10-12 years (N = 218; 52% boys) completed questionnaires assessing antisocial behavior, callous-unemotional traits, verbal ability, and school engagement, and teachers provided children’s Math and Korean grades at three time points during a single academic year. Prospective associations were explored in conditional latent growth curve models. Both antisocial behavior and callous-unemotional traits were related to lower school engagement at the start of the academic year, but the magnitude of the associations was greater for callous-unemotional traits, suggesting a greater adverse effect of callous-unemotional traits on engagement than antisocial behavior. Moreover, children with high levels of callous-unemotional traits showed stable and low levels of school engagement. There were no significant predictive associations between antisocial behavior or callous-unemotional traits and trajectories of academic grades. The findings suggest that interventions aimed at improving educational outcomes among antisocial children should be tailored according to the presence of callous-unemotional traits to target the specific needs of individual students, particularly at the start of the school year.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)788-802
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number4
Early online date11 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2021


  • Academic performance
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Callous-unemotional traits
  • School engagement
  • Verbal ability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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