Southwestern

Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives

Psychology

Laura Thornton’s Master’s Thesis leads to Studying Adolescents with CU Traits

  • News Image

Specifically, I am interested in understanding the characterization of youth with CU traits, and their role in youths’ development, interactions with peers, delinquency, and other antisocial behaviors.

I received my B.S. in Psychology from Southwestern in 2009 and began working as a Juvenile Supervision Officer in Williamson County Juvenile Detention less than a week later.  During that year I worked directly with juveniles in detention while applying to graduate schools in clinical and developmental psychology.  In the Fall of 2010, I moved to the crescent city to join the Applied Developmental Psychology program at the University of New Orleans, an urban research institution.  My major professor is Dr. Paul Frick, who studies developmental pathways to behavioral problems and specifically callous-unemotional (CU) traits.  My research has primarily focused on adolescents with CU traits, which are the downward extension of psychopathy for children and adolescents.  Specifically, I am interested in understanding the characterization of youth with CU traits, and their role in youths’ development, interactions with peers, delinquency, and other antisocial behaviors.  For example, my Master’s thesis was titled, “Adolescents with Callous-Unemotional Traits and their Roles in Group Crime”.  In addition, I serve as lead interviewer for the UNO site of the Crossroads Study, in conjunction with sites at Temple University and University of California-Irvine, which is a project funded through the John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.  The purpose of the Crossroads Study is to examine the juvenile justice system’s impact on youths’ development over time, beginning at a youth’s entry into the juvenile justice system.  My research has recently been published in Psychological Assessment, and recent reviews with the lab have been published in Psychological Bulletin and Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.  Recently, I defended my qualifying exams, am currently working on publications from the Crossroads Study, as well as developing my dissertation.  My plans for the future include getting my dissertation finished and graduating in 2015, followed by a post-doctoral fellowship. 

Share This Story