>> Good afternoon, everybody.
A very warm welcome to today's UCL Lunch Hour lecture.
It is my great pleasure to introduce Essi Viding,
professor of Developmental Psychopathology
in the UCL division of Psychology
and Language Sciences.
Professor Viding's lecture for us today is entitled,
Why do some people become psychopaths?
>> Thank you.
Individuals with psychopathy tend
to capture public imagination.
People are fascinated by what makes these individuals
And there has been a tendency
to at times sensationalize the condition and the description
of the condition in the media.
And I guess one of the signs
that these individuals really do capture the public imagination
is that they have featured in a number of popular films.
So here we have a picture of Jacob,
a character from Buckham [assumed spelling] Films
and he's very impulsive and he's also entirely unconcerned
about the impact of his behavior on other people
and he seems to lack empathy.
We have Kevin who is from the movie,
We Need to Talk about Kevin.
This is a very chilling description
of a child who's not capable of forming attachment relationships
with his parents who's cruel to animals and cruel
to younger children who ends up by the end of the film
and the book that it's based on becoming a killer.
He kills family members and also people at his school.
We have Anton Chigurh who's an absolutely chilling contract
killer in the current Coen Brothers film,
No Country for Old Men.
And if anyone has seen the film, I think one of very scary things
about observing this character is when you see shots
that are focused directly at his eyes
and there really is no emotion coming back
to you from those eyes.
And then there's probably everyone's favorite psychopath
from movies, Hannibal Lecter from the Silence
of the Lamb film; and he is again, a very good example
of a psychopathic character in that he's entirely void
of empathy for other people and he's also extremely skillful
at manipulating other people to his own ends.
And in fact, if you asked members
of the general public what springs to mind
when they hear the word psychopath,
people often think about serial killers.
And real-life serial killers include characters
such as Ted Bundy who killed
at least 30 women in America in 1970s.
He was very bright and extremely handsome, and he often posed
as somebody who was in a position of authority or someone
who was very reliable to entice these women to come with him,
and then he murdered them in a very cruel way.
And people think that he actually may have committed many
more crimes than he confessed to.
His description of himself was
that he's the most cold-hearted son
of a bitch you'll ever likely to meet.
And interestingly his defense lawyer didn't have a lot
of good things to say about him either and said
that he was the very definition of heartless evil.
So this was a man who was able to be very charming,
was able to convince other people to come with him,
but he actually turned out to be somebody
who felt absolutely nothing for his victims and didn't seem
to really feel any guilt for what he had done.
But, of course, not all psychopaths are serial killers.
In fact, only a very few are.
So what are the characteristics
that define an individual with psychopathy?
Well, one of the most prominent characteristics is their lack
of remorse and guilt.
So they simply do not feel bad about the things they have done.
They may sometimes say that they do if they perceive
that as getting them something that they want
such as early release from prison.
But it's very clear from the way they behave and --
that they do not actually experience remorse
for what they have done.
They don't feel bad about what they have done.
They're very shallow affect.
Their emotions appear ingenuine and often very short lived.
They don't form typical attachment relationships.
They don't look after the people around them.
They can often have superficial charm.
So if you meet these individuals for the first time,
you may be very, very alert by them.
They may seem very gregarious, very charming, very nice.
But once you get to know them for a longer period of time
that charm tends to wear off.
They often have a grandiose sense of self worth.
They think they are better
and more deserving than other people.
They're pathological liars and they are typically very good
at manipulating other people to their own ends.
As a developmental psychologist I'm very interested
in how these characteristics develop.
It's unlikely that anybody's born a psychopath
but clearly you don't get this sort of conditions
as a birthday present when you turn 18 either.
So the research in our group has been focused
on investigating what makes some children developmentally
vulnerable to developing these sorts
of personality traits as an adult.
And you can focus on various different levels of query
when you try and understand the development of this condition.
So we can look at how children who are at risk
of becoming adult psychopaths look like behaviorally.
What differentiates these children
from typical developing children or other children
who may have behavioral problems
but who don't exhibit these cold characteristics
of lack of empathy and guilt.
We can study how these children see the world around them
so we can use experimental tasks to focus
on their psychological level analysis.
And we can see if these children's brains react
differently to information around them
which is what you would expect if their behavior
and if their way of processing information is different.
And you can also use genetically informative designs
to study the relevant importance of genetic
and environmental factors
in developing this type of condition.
And you can also try and look for specific risk genes
and risk environmental factors
that in concert might promote the development of the disorder.
Now we'll first tell you a little bit
about what makes these children behaviorally different
from their typically developing peers but also
from other children who have behavioral problems.
So there are several early behavioral warning signs
of children who are at risk for psychopathy
and these look very different from the kinds
of characteristics we see in adult psychopaths.
The person who first formally downward extended this
psychopathic criteria to children was Paul Frick
and this was work that started 20 years ago
in the United States and now several different research
groups across the globe have studied these behavioral
characteristics in children and in young people.
These children lack remorse and guilt so they don't express
that they're sorry for what they've done.
They lack empathy and this can be often manifested
by them behaving cruelly amongst other children, bullying,
being very physically aggressive in a way
that is really showing no concern
over developing of the other person.
They are also sometimes cruel to animals
such as pets in the family.
They have shallow affects so many of the parents report
that they don't feel like they can connect with this child.
They may have a perfectly nice relationship
with their other children and if anyone has read the book,
We Need to Talk About Kevin, I think that's a very good example
of a mother who was able to form an attachment relationship
with one of her children, but really felt
like there was nothing coming back from the child who went
on to develop psychopathy.
These children can manipulate other people for their own gain.
And they have a sense of being more important
and more deserving than other people.
And in combination this constellation of traits
in children is called callous-unemotional traits.
So clearly we don't want to label children as psychopaths
but this constellation of traits gives you a warning sign
that the child who scores very high on these traits may be
at risk for developing psychopathy in the adulthood.
They're kind of like the warning sign.
You want to start thinking about doing something
to help this child if they display this constellation
There's now quite a bit of good longitudinal research showing
that these sorts of traits are predictive of persistent,
violent and severe antisocial behavior and psychopathy
in adolescents and adulthood.
They don't predict that every child who's score high
on these sorts of traits will inevitably become an antisocial
adult but they do index that that child is
at a significantly increased risk
of developing the antisocial presentation in adulthood.
Antisocial behavior in children is called conduct problems.
And if you think about this circle that I'm showing to you
as representing all the children with conduct problems
and the blue circles as representing the minority
who also has high levels of callous-unemotional traits
and you get an idea that they are a minority
but they are a sizable minority.
So people estimate that somewhere between 25 to as high
as 50 percent of the children who are diagnosed
with conduct problems also have this presentation
of high callous-unemotional traits.
And what sets them apart from other children
with conduct problems is that they often engage in proactive
or planned acts of aggression.
So while the aggression in other children
with conduct problems is typically quite impulsive
and in reaction to something external that happened,
for instance, a perceived threat or slight to the child,
these children can engage in aggression
if they think it's going to get them something they want.
It might get them status among peers.
It might get them some goods that they desire.
As I've already said they lack guilt.
They don't worry about hurting other people
to get what they want and they often have low levels
And this is in contrast with the remainder of children
with conduct problems who have low levels
of callous-unemotional traits and who often aggress
when they feel under threat
and whose aggression is often impulsive.
It's not premeditated.
And when these children have had a chance to reflect
on what they have done, they actually often feel bad
and guilty about having hurt other people
or having done something that has caused their parents
or their teachers to feel sad.
And this presentation can also occur
with high levels of anxiety.
So you already are beginning to see from this behavioral data
that the reactivity, emotional reactivity profile
of these two types of children
with conduct problems is quite different.
You have a group that seems to be more cold and calculated
and unemphatic, and then you have another group who seems
to be more hot headed, reactive, and impulsive
but who also has the capacity to empathize with other people.
So these different behavioral profiles have got psychologists
interested in how these children may see the world
around them differently from typically developing children
but also their peers with conduct problems.
And we can focus on the study of the psychological level
of analysis by giving children experimental tasks
which we often present on a computer, for instance,
and these tasks can give us an idea
of how they process information such as facial,
So I want you to have a go at doing one of the tasks
that we do with the children.
Here's a face that is starting
with a neutral rather calm expression and I'm going
to press a button and it's going
to start slowly developing an emotional expression.
And when you think you know what the expression is,
please shout it out loud and don't be shy.
So you can see fairly early on in the development
of this expression that this is somebody who's looking happy,
their corners of the mouth are going
up which you can see a display of teeth.
This is a happy looking chap.
And here's the same chap putting a different expression.
And again shout out when you think you know what emotion this
person is displaying.
Scared. So I'm hearing people say scared
so this is somebody who is fearful.
And you can see that this person is scared
because they are showing a lot of eye white.
This is one of the very, very ecologically valid signs
that somebody's scared
when their eyes are looking a little bit large
and you can see a lot of the eye whites.
Now children who have conduct problems and high levels
of callous-unemotional traits have difficulty in recognizing
and reacting to other people's emotions particularly emotions
of distrust, such as fear and also sadness which is --
you see here at the top right-hand side -- sorry.
Bottom right-hand side.
And people have used facial stimulus --
that's what I just showed to you to assess this.
But people have also used stimuli that is auditory
so people doing vocalizations that emotional or body postures.
And this work by our lab and labs
of our colleagues have very conclusively shown
that these children really do not appear
to process other people's emotions in a typical fashion.
They seem to be underreactive to these displays of emotions
and unable to recognize them as effectively
as typically developing children do.
Interestingly they also report feeling less fear themselves.
And one of the things that we're interested in researching
in our lab at the moment is whether the reason they have
such difficulty in processing other people's emotions stems
from the fact that they don't feel those same emotions very
So it's probably tricky to empathize with other people
and to recognize their emotions
if you have an impoverished experience
of those same emotions yourself.
We also know from standard learning paradigms
that these individuals who have conduct problems
and high callous-unemotional traits are less responsive
So when you have to learn about which stimuli is good to go for
and gives you points and which stimuli is bad to go for
and doesn't give you points,
these individuals are typically poorer
at modulating their behavior in response to the punishment used.
And people have theorized that one
of the reasons why these children may be tricky
to socialize is that two very powerful tools
of socializations are not as effective for them.
So anyone who has small children in the audience or has dealt
with small children knows that when they misbehave,
we often give them sanctions.
So in my house at the moment
with the three-year-old we have a naughty step
and he sits there relatively regularly and so it's something
that I employ in my house.
It's very effective.
He doesn't like sitting on the naughty step.
He said he'll kind of improve his behavior
and he usually comes and joins us
and he indeed does improve his behavior because he doesn't
like being excluded from the activities.
And we also do empathy induction.
So anyone who's dealt with toddlers has basically repeated,
well, think how Johnny is going to feel if you whack him
with the toy car until they're blue in the face.
So we try and get the children to focus
on how their behavior might impact somebody else
and somebody else's emotions.
Now if you are really incapable
of feeling perhaps those emotions yourself
and also feeling for other people,
and if you don't react very much to the punishments,
there are two very powerful socialization tools
that are not going to be as effective in bringing you
up as they are in typically developing children.
So really what we see in these children is this diminished
emotional responsivity to both, kind of,
more material punishments but also in terms
of their reactivity to other people.
And this profile is in contrast with the profile we see
for children who have conduct problems but who have low levels
of callous-unemotional traits.
These children, if anything,
seemed to be a bit emotionally overreactive.
They have what psychologists call a hostile attribution bias.
So they tend to see threat in even stimuli
that typical individuals don't perceive threatening.
So they might see an ambiguous face and think
that this is somebody who's trying to get at me
so I'm going to aggress first.
So in this group what we see really is increased emotional
reactivity at least to some types of stimuli.
And these data have got ourselves
and also other groups interested in looking
at how these children's brains look
like when we show them emotionally charged stimuli.
One of the ways in which we can study how the brain processes
information is by scanning children using functional
magnetic resonance imaging.
This is a noninvasive technique that involves scanning
for children's brains as they lie inside the magnet.
And they do tasks that we have sent to them.
We can then look at their brain activity
as they are doing the tasks and this gives us an idea
of what parts of the brain are engaged
in processing the information that we show them.
One of the brain areas that researchers
on conduct disorder have or conduct problems have focused
on is called the amygdala.
And this is a very small almond shape part of the brain.
It's a very preserved structure even reptiles have it.
It's there for basically alerting you
that there's something salient in the environment
that you're to pay attention to.
And this salient information
for human beings includes emotions of other people.
And studies of children
with conduct problems using emotional stimuli have been a
little bit mixed.
Some studies have reported increased amygdorial [assumed
spelling] reactivity to emotional stimuli.
Other studies have reported decreased amygdorial reactivity
to emotional stimuli.
And our group recently wanted
to investigate whether it's the callous-unemotional traits
that determine whether the children's brains are
underresponsive or the amygdors are underresponsive
to emotional stimuli
or overresponsive to the same stimuli.
So we have carried out a range of paradigms recently.
I will talk about two here in the talk.
And here's an example of a recent task
that we've used called masked fear task.
And in this task we presented either fearful faces which is
on the left-hand side there or calm faces which is
on the right-hand side there
for very short duration, only 17 milliseconds.
And then we replaced those faces with a calm face
of a different identity.
And the replacement of the face happened so quickly
that the participants are not consciously aware
that they've seen a fearful face.
So the advantage of this task is that we can look
at very early preconscious processing of emotion.
In other words, we get an idea
of how automatically the brain attunes
to the emotional stimuli.
And when we contrast the fear
and the calm conditions we find a pattern of brain responses
where children who have conduct problems
and high callous-unemotional traits show very low amygdorial
reactivity to these preconsciously presented
The typical children are somewhere in the middle
and the children with conduct problems
and low callous-unemotional traits show, if anything,
overreactivity to these fear faces
that we present pre-attentively.
And here I'm showing you a plot of the data from the children
with conduct problems alone.
And on the left-hand side
on the Y axis you can see the brain activity estimates
from the FMRI analysis
and on the right-hand side you can see the child's
callous-unemotional traits score.
And you can see that the higher the callous-unemotional trait
score, the lower the amygdorial response to these fearful faces.
We also used a more complex emotional tasks such as the task
that showed scenarios of other people in distress.
So this was a cartoon task where the children saw a scenario
where the mother is reading a newspaper, a child is going
down the slide, and the child ends up hurting himself
and falling off the slide.
And then the person inside the scanner gets two choices
as to what is the appropriate ending to the task.
And most children even the children
with conduct problems are very able to say
that the appropriate response is for the adult to go
and comfort the child.
So behaviorally the children --
process this task very similarly.
But interestingly again, the amygdala of the children
with conduct problems particularly those children
with conduct problems
and callous-unemotional traits is less reactive
to observing other people in distress
in this very complex social scenario.
And the kind of contrast we can use
in a scanner is we have a similar scenarios
but without the emotional contents
so we can really extract the emotional response of the brain.
So the data from this behavioral psychological
and brain emitting studies is really showing this picture
of shallow affect and lack of empathy and demonstrating it
in different levels of analyses.
So we know from naturalistic behavioral settings
from more experimental behavioral settings and also
from brain imaging settings that these children really seem
to have this underreactivity to other people's emotions,
perhaps particularly distress.
So these sort of data obviously begs the question
as to why do these children process the information
around them so differently.
Are they genetically at risk for being this way?
Are there some environmental risk factors that mean
that they come to be very unemphatic,
very emotionally underreactive.
And one of the ways in which you can wrote the origins
or the etiology of any given trait or disorder is
by classical twin design.
And the twin design relies on a comparison between identical
or monozygotic twins and nonidentical or dizygotic twins.
The identical twins are the result
of a single fertilized egg splitting so they are
for all intents and purposes each other's genetic clones.
And an example I often use here, I run the research group
with Dr. Eamon McCrory who's an identical twin.
And his brother has three children
but if they did a paternity test,
they couldn't tell whether it's the brother
or whether it's Eamon who's the father.
So these are two individuals who have identical DNA.
Then we have nonidentical or dizygotic twins
who are the product of two separate eggs being fertilized
by two separate sperm.
So they're like any other sibling pair
but they have been born at the same time
which makes them a good comparison in the studies
for the identical twins.
And you can use the twin studies to infer the relative importance
of genetic and environmental influences
on variation on any given trait.
And the way you can do it is you can compare how similar do these
clones look to each other on any given behavior
and how similar do these nonidentical twins look
to each other on any given behavior.
And you can conclude that there is more than likely
to be genetic influence on a trait
if the identical twins look more similar to each other
than the nonidentical twins.
So if genetics are important in driving similarity,
then the individuals who share hundred percent
of their DNA should look more similar to each other
than individuals who share on average 50 percent of their DNA.
You can also conclude that there may be environmental factors
that make family members similar to each other.
If the nonidentical twins correlate with each other
or resemble each other more than the half
of the identical twin resemblance.
So if you think that only genetics are important
for driving similarity then the dizygotic twin resemblance
should be exactly half of the identical twin resemblance.
Now if the dizygotic twin resemblance is actually larger
than half the identical twin resemblance, this tells us
that there are some environmental factors that act
over and above genetic factors to promote similarity
between family members.
And we can also infer that there are some individual specific
or nonshared environmental factors
if the identical twins are not 100 percent identical
in the trait.
So these [inaudible] of the genetic clones to the extent
that they differ on any given feature,
there must have been some environmental influences
that differed between the twins.
And an example I often use to drive this point home is
if you manage an identical twin who grew up in Britain
versus an identical twin who went to live in Australia,
you would expect that there are chances and differences
in pigmentation between these twins because one
of them is exposed to constant sun and the other one has
to deal with the kind of weather
that we've been having last week.
So this is environmental factor that differed between the twins
and drives differences between family members.
And we have used the twin design
to ask whether there are differences
in the relative importance of genetic
and environmental factors for the development
of conduct problems in children
who have high callous-unemotional traits
and in children who have low callous-unemotional traits.
And I've been fortunate to work with a very big twin registry
that is headed by Robert Floman [assumed spelling]
of the Institute of Psychiatry here in London.
And what we were able to do
because this was a very large twin sample is
to select those children who are in the top 10 percent
for conduct problems for the twin sample.
So they are scoring
in an atypical range for conduct problem.
And then we divided this extreme group to two.
We took those children where either 1 or 2 members
of the twin pair also scored in the top 10 percent
for callous-unemotional traits.
And then we looked at children where neither member
of the twin pair scored in the top range
for callous-unemotional traits.
And within each of these groups we were able
to compare the identical and nonidentical twins
to give us an indication
of how heritable are the conduct problems for children
who have callous-unemotional traits
and how heritable are conduct problems for children
who have low levels of callous-unemotional traits.
What we found was that for children
who had high callous-unemotional traits the conduct problems were
Whereas for children who had low levels
of callous-unemotional traits environmental influences both
shared and nonshared were more important
for the development of conduct problems.
Now that doesn't mean that the children
who have high callous-unemotional traits are
somehow genetically destined to become antisocial.
And but it does mean that they will probably have more
vulnerability, innate vulnerability
for developing conduct problems.
Similarly it doesn't mean that the children who have low levels
of callous-unemotional traits have no genetic risk whatsoever
but it may be that that takes different form
and may require some environmental factors to express
or more environmental factors that you may need
to express this vulnerability
if you have high callous-unemotional traits.
Of course the twin studies only give us an idea
of the relative importance of genetic
and environmental factors
and they don't tell us what the actual genes are
or the actual environments.
And currently there is very scarce data
about the actual genes and actual environments particularly
for children with high callous-unemotional traits.
So ourselves and other people have speculated
that the risk genes for high callous-unemotional traits
and low callous-unemotional traits type antisocial behavior
may be different.
And this would be in line with the fact
that the other group is associated
with low emotional reactivity whereas the other one is
associated with high emotional reactivity.
So in a way you would expect there
to be different vulnerability genes for the two groups.
Perhaps genes that confer low emotional reactivity
and arousal indicates children
with high callous-unemotional traits,
and there's certainly some data to support
that this may be the case.
So a genotype called serotonin transporter polymorphism has
been associated with callous-unemotional traits
and the allele or the type of that genotype
that was associated was the one
that confers slower emotional reactivity.
We know that from imaging genetic studies.
But this is just a single study.
Interestingly this genotype only conferred risk in children
who lived in low resource neighborhoods.
So it suggests that you may have propensity
to lack emotional reactivity or lack empathy.
But whether that expresses itself
as callous-unemotional traits or not may depend
on your environmental conditions.
There are also some studies that have suggested the genes
that may be associated
with attachment processes could be important
such as the oxytocin receptor gene.
But ultimately there haven't really been replications
of these findings.
We have ourselves conducted a genome line association study
which means that we combed
through the whole genome looking whether there is anything
that crops up and there really weren't any big hits.
And there hasn't been [inaudible] case
in either our study or any of the other studies.
So it's very early days.
But if this particular phenotype goes in line with what we know
from other behavioral phenotypes and I have no reason to expect
that it would be different, we're likely
to be spending a long time looks for those genes.
They are going to be small genes that probably -- sorry.
Genes with small effect size
that probabilistically increase the risk
for developing this sort of behavioral outcome
and it is more than likely that any
of this genotypes will require the presence of other risk genes
and environmental risk factors in order
to penetrate as a risk phenotype.
Again, ourselves and others have proposed that for those
with no callous-unemotional traits we might be interested
in looking for genes that confer high arousal
and reactive aggression.
And again there's some sensitive data suggesting that these sort
of genotypes may be associated
with the low callous-unemotional type of antisocial behavior.
And genome interaction may be particularly important
with regard to this subtype.
So there are a number of good studies suggesting
that if you have a polymorphism of monoamine oxidase A gene
that confers increased unemotional reactivity.
And if on top of that you experience maltreatment,
then you are at substantial increased risk
for developing conduct problems.
But very, very early days and all
of these studies need more replications
and we probably need to really wait for a lot
of methodological developments before we can reliably start
finding genes associated with this condition.
Similarly, the risk environments may differ
for the two condition.
So we have reasonably good data
for the low callous-unemotional trait subgroup.
It's reliably associated with hard
and inconsistent parenting and maltreatment.
But we have less of an idea
of what our environmental risk factors that promote development
of callous-unemotional traits.
And our own work using identical twin differences design
where we rely on the fact that they are each other's clones
and any differences in phenotype and risk response
to environmental factors such as parenting should be
where we can reliably say that that's environmental.
Using that sort of methodology we haven't been able to show
that hard and inconsistent parenting, for instance,
predicts increase in callous-unemotional traits.
So that doesn't seem to be something
that impacts development of those traits or at least not
as reliably as it does for the children
who have low callous-unemotional traits.
And there's some very interesting early data.
There's a funny looking carafe with lots of little data points
but I will talk you through it.
Paul Frick and his colleagues looked at the relationship
between hard and inconsistent parenting and conduct problems.
And when you look at children who have conduct problems
and low callous-unemotional traits,
you can see this [inaudible] response relationship.
The higher the frequency of hard and inconsistent parenting,
the higher the level of conduct problems for these children.
But in contrast children who have conduct problems
and low levels
of callous-unemotional traits appear to have high levels
of conduct problems regardless of whether they receive less
or more of the hard and inconsistent parenting.
Now this is not to say
that environmental influences don't matter
for these children at all.
And in fact there is some very interesting new work showing
that for instance parental warmth is associated
with lower levels of callous-unemotional traits.
So the children may be responsive
to some positive environmental influences.
There have also been treatment studies that have shown
that some parenting focused interventions can be effective
in reducing callous-unemotional traits and conduct problems.
And there is a Meads [assumed spelling] and --
study showing that if you add empathy training
to normal parent training programs,
children who have high levels of conduct --
callous-unemotional traits may particularly benefit
from this sort of training.
At least when it's done with children who are
at the preschool, early primary school age range.
So some evidence that there are protective environmental factors
that can be very helpful for these children.
So why do some people become psychopaths?
I'm afraid that we have only taken baby steps sofar
in terms of research.
So we have some inclination but we really don't have a good idea
of the development trajectory particularly
at different levels of analysis.
So there's indication that these children may be more genetically
vulnerable but I hasten to add not genetically destined
for this sort of outcome.
It may be that they lack environmental buffers
or they have some risk environmental factors
which we don't know what they are that mean
that the genetic vulnerability expresses itself
as callous-unemotional traits.
And we know that they are not very emotionally reactive,
empathetic and sensitive to punishment and this sort
of presentation at the cognitive emotional level is probably
going to make them more resistant
to typical socialization efforts.
But we also know from longitudinal studies
that not all children who have conduct problems
and high callous-unemotional traits grow
up to be adults with psychopathy.
So we really do need more longitudinal studies
that combine different methodologies and will enable us
to really study what are the environmental risk factors.
How may they be different at different time points?
How do they influence the development
of these children's cognitions and affect processing?
So how does the atypical emotion develop over time?
And it's interesting to find out that this is something
that we are studying at the moment
in our group is whether these children can empathize
under any circumstances.
So if we focus their attention differently or if we use stimuli
that they themselves report as sadness or fear inducing,
do we then see an emotional response.
And if we do can that be harnessed
to teach them a bit more about how
to empathize with other people.
So can we help them to see the world differently?
I think that's kind of an important research question
for the next 10, 20, 30 years.
I know that there are specific interventions being developed
that really focus on the difficulties
that these children experience and I'm sure
that there will be a lot of cross talk
between these interventions and the basic science researchers.
Some of our basic science findings will feed
into how these interventions are tailored more specifically
to meet the needs of these children.
And of course there is the hope
that eventually there will be very few of the individuals
who develop psychopathy as an adult outcome.
I want to finish by very much acknowledging all the people
who are working on our team at the moment and who've worked
on our team in the past.
This sort of research requires a lot of theoretical knowledge,
technical skills, statistical skills, and first
and foremost a lot of people skills
and when we recruit the samples so when we test the children,
we have a very capable team of people
who are involved in the research.
And I particularly want
to acknowledge Eamon McCrory who's there at the Center
with me who codirects the research group with me.
And also I want to acknowledge the people
who are very generously funded our research.
And I'm very happy to take questions.
[ Applause ]
And I should also mention that you can go to our lab's website
and there will be information about our research
and materials in that website.
>> Thank you very much.
Thank you very much.
We have time for one question.
>> Anybody has a good question.
It has to be the very best question that can be asked.
>> If our high callous-unemotional traits are
genetic, that would suggest that maybe one or both
of the parents also share some of those traits;
so could that be an environmental factor leading
>> So that's an excellent question.
So the question was that if these traits are heritable and 1
or 2 of the parents share the traits does that mean
that the child is more likely to be exposed
to environmental risk.
In short, yes.
It's a phenomenon that we call gene-environment correlation
which is that the parents parent according to that genotype
that they pass on to their children so that the child kind
of has the double whammy of having genetic vulnerability
and then perhaps having a parent who's not really able
to provide the optimal parenting environment either.
There is some interesting data suggesting
that that may not always be the case so there's data
from colleague of mine in Australia,
Mark Datt [assumed spelling] that has looked
at how the children and the parents engage with each other
and interestingly at least in the case of the mothers,
the mothers of these children try and look for eye contact,
try and engage the children just in the same way
as any typical mothers do,
but the children themselves don't engage in the same way
so they don't look the mothers in the eyes.
They don't kind of give back in the same way.
So while I'm sure that you're right that there are a number
of times where the environment is also impoverished
because of the parents vulnerability.
It's not always the case and sometimes these kind
of attachment difficulties may be driven by the child
and the very difficult temperament that the child has.
>> Thank you very much.
Will you join me in thanking Professor Viding again
for an excellent lecture?
[ Applause ]