Psychophysiological and Neuropsychological Characteristics of Non-Incarcerated Adult Males with Higher Levels of Psychopathic Personality Traits
- 519 Downloads
Although much research on psychopathic individuals has been conducted in incarcerated settings, there is increasing interest in studying adults with higher levels of psychopathic traits in the general population. The present study investigated differences in psychophysiological response and neuropsychological functioning between undergraduate males with higher levels of psychopathic traits (higher-p) and undergraduate males with lower levels of psychopathic traits (lower-p). Participants completed self-report measures and neuropsychological measures, and skin conductance response was measured during a risk-taking and affective-picture viewing task. Consistent with previous findings among samples of incarcerated psychopaths, higher-p adults exhibited diminished responses to aversive and positive affective stimuli and were more disinhibited on a motoric response inhibition task. Contrary to expectations, higher-p adults made marginally better decisions on a risky decision making task. Findings were discussed in relation to Gao and Raines’ (Behavioral Sciences & the Law 28(2) 194–210, 2010) model of the neurobiological underpinnings of adults with higher levels of psychopathic traits in non-incarcerated settings, and offer evidence that higher-p adults have both adaptive and non-adaptive traits.
KeywordsPsychopathy Skin conductance response Impulsivity Risk-taking
Conflict of Interest
All authors declare no potential conflict of interests.
The study received university institutional ethics review board approval. Procedures were performed in compliance with relevant laws and institutional review board guidelines. The data was collected with informed consent of the participants.
This research was supported in part by a grant to the first author from the Ohio University Graduate Student Senate. The authors would also like to thank the Ohio University Psychology Department for funding assistance.
- Babiak, P. (2000). Psychopathic Manipulation at Work. In C. Gacano (Ed.), The Clinical and Forensic Assessment of Psychopathy: a practitioner’s Guide. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.Google Scholar
- Babiak, P., Neumann, C. S., & Hare, R. D. (2010). Corporate Psychopathy: Talking the Walk. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 28(2), 174–193.Google Scholar
- Bechara, A. (2007). Iowa Gambling Task Professional Manual. Lutz: Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc.Google Scholar
- Boothby, J. L. (2001). Evaluating the relation between coping variables and prison adjustment. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama.Google Scholar
- Brand, M., Recknor, E. C., Grabenhorst, F., & Bechara, A. (2007). Decisions Under Ambiguity and Decisions Under Risk: Correlations With Executive Functions and Comparisons of two Different Gambling Tasks With Implicit and Explicit Rules. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 29(1), 86–99.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Damasio, A. R. (1994). Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain. New York: Putnam.Google Scholar
- Gallagher, R. P. (2006). National Survey of Counseling Center Directors. Alexandria: International Association of Counseling Services Inc.Google Scholar
- Gao, Y., & Raine, A. (2010). Successful and Unsuccessful Psychopaths: A Neurobiological Model. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 28(2), 194–210.Google Scholar
- Green, P., Allen, L. M., & Astner, K. (1996). The Word Memory Test: A user’s Guide to the Oral and Computer-Administered Forms, US Version 1.1. Durham: CogniSyst.Google Scholar
- Hollingshead, A. B. (1975). Four Factor Index of Social Status. New Haven: Unpublished manuscript, Yale University.Google Scholar
- Lang, P. J., Bradley, M. M., & Cuthbert, B. N. (2008). International Affective Picture System (IAPS): Affective Ratings of Pictures and Instruction Manual. University of Florida: Technical Report A-8.Google Scholar
- LaPierre, D., Braun, C. M. J., & Hodgins, S. (1995). Ventral frontal deficits in psychopathy: Neuropsychological test findings. Neuropsychologia, 33(2), 139–151.Google Scholar
- LeBreton, J. M., Binning, J. F., & Adorno, A. J. (2006). Subclinical psychopaths. In C. J. Thomas, D. L. Segal, & M. Hersen (Eds.), Comprehensive Handbook of Personality and Psychopathology, Vol. 1: Personality and Everyday Functioning. Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Lee, Z., & Salekin, R. T. (2010). Psychopathic Traits in Youth: Is There Evidence for Primary and Secondary Subtypes? Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 38(3), 153–169.Google Scholar
- Lilienfield, S.O. (1990). Development and preliminary validation of a self-report measure of psychopathic personality (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.Google Scholar
- Noble, A. H. (2006). The relationship of psychopathy and social interest to prison adjustment. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana.Google Scholar
- Saunders, J. B., Aasland, O. G., Babor, T. F., de la Fuente, J. R., & Grant, M. (1993). Development of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT): WHO Collaborative Project on Early Detection of Persons With Harmful Alcohol Consumption: II. Addiction, 88(6), 791–804.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Schmidt, S., & Walach, H. (2000). Electrodermal Activity (EDA): State-of-the-art Measurement and Techniques for Parapsychological Purposes. Journal of Parapsychology, 64(2), 139–163.Google Scholar
- Solutions, K. H. N. (2009). Bactrack Select Breathalyzer S80 Owner’s Manual. San Francisco: KHN Solutions, LLC.Google Scholar
- Springer, K. A. (2005). Social interest and psychopathy as predictors of offender outcomes. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana.Google Scholar
- Tranel, D. (1994). “Acquired sociopathy”: The development of sociopathic behavior following focal brain damage. In D. C. Fowles, P. Stocker, & S. H. Goodman (Eds.), Progress in Experimental Personality and Psychopathology Research (pp. 285–311).Google Scholar
- Wechsler, D. (2001). The Wechsler Test of Adult Reading (WTAR). San Antonio: The Psychological Corporation.Google Scholar