Challenges for treatment of aggressive antisocial behaviors in forensic settings: the importance of personality, cognitive functioning & callous-unemotional traits

  • Wallinus, M. (First/primary/lead supervisor)
  • Pia Enebrink (Second supervisor)
  • Kristina Sygel (Second supervisor)
  • Perrin, S. (Second supervisor)

Activity: Examination and supervisionSupervision of PhD students


Aggressive antisocial behaviors (AAB) describe all interpersonal behaviors that are aggressive (hostile/attacking) and antisocial (violating personal/cultural standards) (Wallinius, 2012). AAB contributes to lifelong ill-health, early death and suffering and are of substantial interest to public health (Hyatt et al., 2018;Butchart & Mikton, 2014). These behaviors constitute a daily challenge within forensic settings, and studies on the determinants of their persistence are essential to the development of preventive strategies (Wallinius et al.,2016). The study of personality and individual differences in offenders can help clarify and identify aspects important for the treatment and management of AAB. Indeed, expressions of AAB have been related to different personality constructs, resulting in variation in suggested treatment and management regimes (Snowden & Gray, 2010; Basoglu et al., 2011). A specific personality construct that has been linked to AAB, including proactive forms of aggression (Blais et al., 2014), and that has been suggested as a significant challenge in forensic settings is psychopathy (Hare & Neumann, 2008). In line with this, callous-unemotional (CU) traits have been suggested to have an important role in the expression of AAB (Patrick, 2018). One further factor that has been described as important for the development of AAB is cognitive functioning, where recent studies emphasize the need of increased knowledge on how cognitive functioning in offenders affects susceptibility to treatment interventions (Wallinius et al., 2019). Yet, the knowledge of the impact of all the aforementioned individual differences or traits on the possibilities for treatment and management of AAB in forensic settings is incomplete. Recently, studies have indicated that the effect of psychological treatment in forensic psychiatric care has not been sufficiently researched (SBU, 2018; Howner et al., 2018; Nilsson, 2018). Furthermore, no specific treatment has been found effective in reducing AAB (Hecht et al., 2018), even though promising developmentsincorporating Virtual Reality techniques has been suggested as useful additions to current interventions in forensic psychiatry (Tuente et al., 2018). It is crucial to find methods to reduce AAB in forensic settings, to design and deliver effective treatment interventions, and research to clarify associations between personality traits, cognitive functioning CU traits, cognitive functioning, and AAB is called for. The purpose of this thesis is to clarify associations between personality, cognitive functioning, CU traits, and AAB, and implications for treatment of AAB in forensic settings.
Period2019 Mar 1 → …
Examinee/Supervised personFernando Renee González Moraga
Examination/Supervision held at
Degree of RecognitionNational

UKÄ subject classification

  • Medical and Health Sciences
  • Social Sciences

Free keywords

  • aggression
  • psychopathology
  • callous unemotional traits
  • virtual reality
  • treatment
  • forensic psychiatry