Through the looking glass: the neural basis of self-concept in young adults with antisocial trajectories

Ilse H. van de Groep, Marieke G N Bos, Lucres M. C. Jansen, Arne Popma, Eveline A. Crone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Self-concept is shaped by social experiences, but it is not yet well understood how the neural and behavioral development of self-concept is influenced by a history of antisocial behavior. In this pre-registered study, we examined neural responses to self-evaluations in young adults who engaged with antisocial behavior in childhood and either desisted or persisted in antisocial behavior. A self-concept task was performed by 94 young adults (age range 18-30 years). During the task, participants with a persistent or desistent antisocial trajectory (n = 54) and typically developing young adults (n = 40) rated whether positive and negative traits in different domains (prosocial and physical) described themselves. We examined both the effects of a history of antisocial behavior as well as current heterogeneity in psychopathic traits on self-concept appraisal and its neural underpinnings. Participants endorsed more positive trait statements than negative across domains, which did not differ between antisocial-history groups. However, current psychopathic traits were negatively associated with prosocial self-concept and medial prefrontal cortex activity during self-evaluation. Together, these findings suggest that antisocial tendencies might indeed be reflected in self-concept development of young adults, specifically in the prosocial domain.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbernsad016
JournalSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2023


  • antisocial behavior
  • fMRI
  • psychopathy
  • self-concept

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