The association between toddlerhood empathy deficits and antisocial personality disorder symptoms and psychopathy in adulthood.
The present study examined empathy deficits in toddlerhood (age 14 to 36 months) as predictors of antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) symptoms and psychopathy measured by the Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy scale (Levenson, Kiehl, & Fitzpatrick, 1995) in adulthood (age 23 years) in 956 individuals from the Colorado Longitudinal Twin Study. Consistent with the hypothesis that antisocial behavior is associated with "active" rather than "passive" empathy deficits, early disregard for others, not lack of concern for others, predicted later ASPD symptoms. Early disregard for others was also significantly associated with factor 1 of the Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scale, which includes items assessing interpersonal and affective deficits, but not with factor 2, which includes items assessing impulsivity and poor behavioral control. The association between early disregard for others and psychopathy factor 2 was near zero after controlling for the shared variance between psychopathy factors 1 and 2. These results suggest that there is a propensity toward adulthood ASPD symptoms and psychopathy factor 1 that can be assessed early in development, which may help identify individuals most at risk for stable antisocial outcomes.