Identifying Emotional Deficits in Nonclinical Psychopathy and Machiavellianism

Ali, Farah. 2011. Identifying Emotional Deficits in Nonclinical Psychopathy and Machiavellianism. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The affective style of individuals on the psychopathy continuum has been investigated since Cleckley’s (1941) extensive documentation. However, as researchers have since focused on individuals at the extreme end of the spectrum, nonclinical psychopathy remains an under-researched topic. For example, a lack of empathy is considered a defining feature of psychopathy, yet little research has examined the relationship between nonclinical psychopathy and empathy. Although Machiavellianism most likely falls on the psychopathy continuum, research has barely investigated whether similar emotional deficits exist in Machiavellianism. In addition, studies investigating emotional deficits/dysfunction in psychopathy have often not differentiated between the primary and secondary subtypes. This dissertation aims to examine whether emotional deficits potentially associated with psychopathy in clinical samples are also associated with psychopathy (primary and secondary) and Machiavellianism in nonclinical samples. In addition, this dissertation identifies variations and similarities in emotional deficits among primary psychopathy, secondary psychopathy and Machiavellianism in nonclinical samples. Study 1 examines the psychopathy subtypes and Machiavellianism in relation to trait anxiety. Study 2 investigates the psychopathy subtypes and Machiavellianism in relation to the emotional Stroop paradigm. Study 3 examines the psychopathy subtypes and Machiavellianism in relation to alexithymia. Study 4 explores aggression, aggressive thoughts and intergroup hostility in relation to the psychopathy subtypes and Machiavellianism. Emotional empathy is investigated in study 5, and study 6 investigates whether Theory of Mind (ToM) deficits exist in these traits. The 7th and final study investigates the traits in relation to life satisfaction and intimate relationships. The results indicate that nonclinical psychopathy and Machiavellianism are associated with trait anxiety, alexithymia, aggression, emotional empathy errors, ToM errors, lesser life satisfaction and relationship quality, but not with interference on the emotional Stroop paradigm. The implications of the empirical results for our understanding of emotional dysfunction in psychopathic and Machiavellian traits are discussed.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


nonclinical psychopathy, machiavellianism, psychology, emotional deficits,

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Date Deposited:

17 Feb 2012 13:15

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 08:24


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