Psychopathic personality traits and antisocial behaviours in adults: Behavioural, emotional, and physiological correlates

Welter Wendt, Guilherme. 2018. Psychopathic personality traits and antisocial behaviours in adults: Behavioural, emotional, and physiological correlates. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis presents a series of studies that contribute to the literature about psychopathic traits in the general population, addressing physiological, emotional and behavioural correlates. At the level of behaviour, studies within Chapter Three showed positive correlations between bullying and psychopathy, and found better explanatory power for Primary Psychopathy in predicting bullying (Study 1). Additionally, bully–victims were found to present higher psychopathic traits (Study 2). At the physiological level, Chapter Four presents two studies examining cardiovascular functioning at rest and cardiovascular reactivity to stress. Rebellious Nonconformity, Total Psychopathy, and Social Influence showed significant, negative associations with resting heart rate (Study 3). Subsequently, Study 4 reports an association between psychopathic behaviours with threatening physiological responses, showing that participants high on their total levels of psychopathic personality traits and on Machiavellian Egocentricity were marked by a maladaptive pattern of hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal reactivity to stress. Finally, this thesis aimed to extend the psychophysiological findings to the level of behaviour while also accounting for emotional deficiencies (cf. Chapter Five). Study 5 revealed that secondary variants of psychopathy were significant in predicting perceived stress. Additionally, the associations between psychopathic variants and perceived stress were mediated by specific deficiencies in empathy (e.g., difficulties in identifying and describing feelings). In summary, data presented in this thesis indicated differential associations of psychopathic traits in cardiovascular functioning at rest, and central nervous system reactivity to laboratory–induced stress. Further, that elevated self–report psychopathy was accompanied by higher behavioural and emotional difficulties.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.25602/GOLD.00026092

Keywords:

Psychopathic personality traits, bullying, psychophysiology

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology

Date:

31 October 2018

Item ID:

26092

Date Deposited:

20 Mar 2019 15:04

Last Modified:

31 Oct 2021 02:26

URI:

https://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/26092

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