Psychopathy and Moral Decision-Making Open Access

Frankel, Erica Lauren (2013)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/k930bx86d?locale=en
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Abstract

This study examined the relationship between psychopathic personality traits and moral decision-making. Psychopathy was assessed through the administration of the PPI-R and LSRP self report measures of psychopathy, while moral decision making was assessed through a questionnaire presenting 48 moral dilemma task vignettes. In addition, the FrSBe and the Shipley-Hartford Scale were administered to control for frontal lobe function and verbal intelligence. Psychopathic personality traits were separated into two largely orthogonal factors: Factor I (Fearless Dominance) and Factor II (Impulsive Antisociality). Moral decision-making was operationalized as either utilitarian or deontological modes of judgment. Participants (N = 46) were recruited from Emory University's undergraduate introductory psychology classes. Consistent with our hypotheses, higher scores on PPI-R Factor I subscale predicted significantly higher levels of utilitarian (as opposed to deontological) moral decision-making, while higher scores on PPI-R Factor II subscale and LSRP secondary scale predicted no relationship to deontological/utilitarian moral decision-making Contrary to prediction, higher scores LSRP Primary subscale were unrelated to utilitarian/deontological moral decision-making. These results suggest the interpersonal deficits associated with the Factor I subscale of psychopathy (i.e. negative emotionality and deficient trait anxiety), may predispose these individuals to significantly less deontological decisions when presented with a moral dilemma. In addition, these results propose that the PPI-R may have more construct validity than the LSRP when measuring Factor I manifestations of psychopathy.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Introduction...1

Moral Judgment...1
Psychopathy...4
Neurological Correlates...8
Dual-Process Theory of Morality...7
Psychopathic Deficits...9
Trolley Problem...10
Current Study...12
Hypotheses...12

Method...13

Participants...13
Measures...14

Results...17

Zero Order Correlations...17
Partial Correlations...18
Exploratory Analyses...18

Discussion...19

Limitations...23

References...25


Lists of Tables
Table 1...30
Descriptive Statistics

Table 2...31
Correlation of PPI Subscale and Moral Decision Making
Appendix I...32
Moral Dilemma Task Vignette

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