Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Elisa Krackow

Committee Co-Chair

Cheryl McNeil

Committee Member

Cheryl McNeil

Committee Member

Hawley Montgomery-Downs

Committee Member

Karen Weiss


Individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits have been portrayed as having higher intelligence and better memory (Cleckley, 2015). In terms of developmental pathways for psychopathy, the strongest predictor of children and adolescents developing psychopathic traits in adulthood is high levels of callous-unemotional (CU) traits in childhood (Burke et al, 2007; Frick, 2009). Research has been mixed with regard to links between CU or psychopathic traits and memory performance in children and adults, with some studies finding that individuals with high levels of these traits demonstrated poorer memory performance (Bauer & Hesselbrock, 2001; Dolan & Fullam, 2005). This study examined the relation between CU traits and memory recall in adolescents, an important area of research as adolescents with higher levels of CU traits are more likely to be involved in criminal activity, and thus are likely to provide eyewitness testimony (Dolan & Fullam, 2010; Thornton et al, 2015). Fifty adolescents (ages 12 to 18) viewed a video about forensic science and were then asked to freely recall and answer questions about the video after completing distraction tasks for approximately 45 minutes. The results showed that intelligence, working memory, and age predicted amount of correct information freely recalled, while intelligence predicted amount of correct information remembered in cued recall. Working memory predicted amount of information incorrectly recalled during cued recall. CU traits were not predictive of accuracy in free or cued recall. Age, intelligence, and CU traits did not predict total information incorrectly recalled in either free or cued recall.


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