Behavior therapy and callous-unemotional traits

Effects of a pilot study examining modified behavioral contingencies on child behavior

Natalie V. Miller, Sarah M. Haas, Daniel Waschbusch, Michael T. Willoughby, Sarah A. Helseth, Kathleen I. Crum, Erika K. Coles, William E. Pelham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The conduct problems of children with callous-unemotional (CU) traits (i.e., lack of empathy, lack of guilt/lack of caring behaviors) are particularly resistant to current behavioral interventions, and it is possible that differential sensitivities to punishment and reward may underlie this resistance. Children with conduct problems and CU (CPCU) are less responsive to behavioral punishment techniques (e.g., time-out), whereas reward techniques (e.g., earning points for prizes or activities) are effective for reducing conduct problems. This study examined the efficacy of modified behavioral interventions, which de-emphasized punishment (Condition B) and emphasized reward techniques (Condition C), compared with a standard behavioral intervention (Condition A). Interventions were delivered through a summer treatment program over 7. weeks with an A-B-A-C-A-BC-A design to a group of 11 children (7-11. years; 91% male). All children were diagnosed with either oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder, in addition to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Results revealed the best treatment response occurred during the low-punishment condition, with rates of negative behavior (e.g., aggression, teasing, stealing) increasing over the 7. weeks. However, there was substantial individual variability in treatment response, and several children demonstrated improvement during the modified intervention conditions. Future research is necessary to disentangle treatment effects from order effects, and implications of group treatment of CPCU children (i.e., deviancy training) are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)606-618
Number of pages13
JournalBehavior Therapy
Volume45
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

Fingerprint

Behavior Therapy
Child Behavior
Punishment
Reward
Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders
Theft
Therapeutics
Conduct Disorder
Guilt
Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity
Aggression

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology

Cite this

Miller, Natalie V. ; Haas, Sarah M. ; Waschbusch, Daniel ; Willoughby, Michael T. ; Helseth, Sarah A. ; Crum, Kathleen I. ; Coles, Erika K. ; Pelham, William E. / Behavior therapy and callous-unemotional traits : Effects of a pilot study examining modified behavioral contingencies on child behavior. In: Behavior Therapy. 2014 ; Vol. 45, No. 5. pp. 606-618.
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Behavior therapy and callous-unemotional traits : Effects of a pilot study examining modified behavioral contingencies on child behavior. / Miller, Natalie V.; Haas, Sarah M.; Waschbusch, Daniel; Willoughby, Michael T.; Helseth, Sarah A.; Crum, Kathleen I.; Coles, Erika K.; Pelham, William E.

In: Behavior Therapy, Vol. 45, No. 5, 01.01.2014, p. 606-618.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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