Antisocial Behavior, Psychopathic Features and Abnormalities in Reward and Punishment Processing in Youth

Amy L. Byrd, Rolf Loeber, Dustin A. Pardini

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


A better understanding of what leads youth to initially engage in antisocial behavior (ASB) and more importantly persist with such behaviors into adulthood has significant implications for prevention and intervention efforts. A considerable number of studies using behavioral and neuroimaging techniques have investigated abnormalities in reward and punishment processing as potential causal mechanisms underlying ASB. However, this literature has yet to be critically evaluated, and there are no comprehensive reviews that systematically examine and synthesize these findings. The goal of the present review is twofold. The first aim is to examine the extent to which youth with ASB are characterized by abnormalities in (1) reward processing; (2) punishment processing; or (3) both reward and punishment processing. The second aim is to evaluate whether aberrant reward and/or punishment processing is specific to or most pronounced in a subgroup of antisocial youth with psychopathic features. Studies utilizing behavioral methods are first reviewed, followed by studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging. An integration of theory and research across multiple levels of analysis is presented in order to provide a more comprehensive understanding of reward and punishment processing in antisocial youth. Findings are discussed in terms of developmental and contextual considerations, proposed future directions and implications for intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-156
Number of pages32
JournalClinical Child and Family Psychology Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Antisocial behavior
  • Callous-unemotional
  • Psychopathy
  • Punishment
  • Reward
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Antisocial Behavior, Psychopathic Features and Abnormalities in Reward and Punishment Processing in Youth'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this