Psychopathy, Emotional Processing, and Aggression: The Role of Fearless Dominance Open Access

Ascona, Maureen (Spring 2018)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/02870v91j?locale=en
Published

Abstract

Introduction: There are various measures to assess psychopathy, but the field has increasingly moved from a unitary to a multifaceted conceptualization of the disorder. The Psychopathic Personality Inventory (PPI) has been important for evaluating psychopathic levels from a multidimensional perspective. Within the PPI, the subfactor of Fearless Dominance has been an important measure in targeting fearlessness, stress immunity, and social influence, although some question the validity of this subfactor as a measure of psychopathy. In this study, we measure fearless dominance as it potentially influences pain responses, emotional processing, and aggression responses. We also examine whether emotional processing serves as a mediator between psychopathy and aggression levels.

Methods: The data were gathered from an existing dataset of 166 men from the University of Georgia collected in 2008. Testing occurred on 2 days: On the first day, participants received a series of questionnaires, then performed the lexical decision task. On the second day, subjects participated in the Response Choice Aggression Paradigm (RCAP) shock paradigm. 

Results: Fearless Dominance was significantly positively correlated with pain tolerance levels, impaired lexical facilitation for fear and disgust words, and heightened levels of self-reported aggression. Nevertheless, emotion processing did not mediate the relation between psychopathy and shock-related aggression variables.  

Discussion: Fearless dominance altered emotion processing, pain tolerance levels, and self-report aggression, but unlike our hypotheses, laboratory levels of aggression were unrelated, and we did not observe mediation. Exploring different models for aggression and emotional processing might be an important step in identifying a mediation between psychopathy, aggression and emotion processing.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Abstract………………………………………………………………………………………...pg.1

Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………….pg.3

            Psychopathy……………………………………………………………………………pg.3

            Controversy and Changes Throughout Psychopathy…………………………………..pg.3

            Biological Basis………………………………………………………………………..pg.5

            The measurement of psychopathy……………………...………………….…………..pg.9

            Aggression and Psychopathy…………………………………...…………………….pg.12

            Emotional Processing and Psychopathy…………………………………...…………pg.15

            Dissertation…………………………………………………………………………...pg.18

            Hypotheses.………………………………………………………………………...…pg.19

Methods…………………………………………………………………………………….....pg.22

            Participants……………………………………………………………………..……..pg.22

            Experimental Design………………………………………………………………….pg.23

            Materials……………………………………………………………………………...pg.23

            Procedure…………………………………………………………………………..…pg.26

Results…………………………………………………………………………………...……pg.27

            Psychopathy and RCAP Variables……………………………………………………pg.27

            Fearless Dominance and Pain Tolerance…………………………………...………...pg.28

            Fearless Dominance and the Buss Aggression Questionnaire……………...…...……pg.28

            Fearless Dominance and the Inventory of Callous and Unemotional Traits……..…..pg.29

            Fearless Dominance and the Reactive-Proactive Aggression Questionnaire…..…….pg.29

            Fearless Dominance and the International Affective Picture System………..……… pg.30

            Fearless Dominance and the Lexical Decision Task……………………...……….....pg.30

            Emotional Processing as a Mediator of the Link Between Psychopathy and

Aggression……………………………………………………………………………...…….pg.31

Discussion………………………………………………………………………………….....pg.31

            Aggression Findings……………………………………………………………...…..pg.32

            Emotion Processing Findings…………………………………...……………………pg.32

            Emotion Processing as a Mediator……………………………………………………pg.34

            Future Directions…..………………………………………………………...……….pg.34

            Limitations……………………………………………………………………………pg.35

References…………………………………………………………………………………….pg.38

Appendix A: Tables.…………………………………………………...………………….….pg.46

            Table 1……………………………………………………………...…………….…..pg.47

            Table 2………………………………………………………………...………….…..pg.48

            Table 3………………………………………………………………...………….…..pg.49

            Table 4……………………………………………………………………...………...pg.50

            Table 5………………………………………………………………...……………...pg.51

            Table 6…………………………………………………………………...…………...pg.52

            Table 7…………………………………………………………………...…………...pg.53

 

            Table 8……………………………………………………………………...………...pg.54

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