Psychopathic Personality and Depression in Two Large Adult Community Samples: Can Certain Psychopathic Traits Protect Against Depressive Features? Open Access

Bowes, Shauna Marie (2017)

Permanent URL:


Given the prevalence of depression in society today, it is essential to identify individual differences in personality that may protect against or confer risk for depressive features. Certain psychopathic traits, such as social charm and fearlessness, may place individuals at decreased risk for depression, whereas others, such as antisociality and recklessness, may place individuals at increased risk. In the present study, I sought to elucidate the associations among the dimensions of psychopathy and depression in two large, mixed-gender North American community samples (n1=430; n2=441) recruited via Amazon's Mechanical Turk (MTurk). I used multiple indices of both psychopathy and depression, including two widely used self-report measures of depression and three self-report psychopathy measures. Consistent with previous research, Boldness features were moderately negatively correlated with depression, whereas Disinhibition features were moderately positively correlated with depression (e.g., Benning et al., 2005). Coldheartedness was negatively associated with depression, although the magnitude of this relation was weak, whereas Meanness was positively related to depression. There were virtually no gender differences in the relations between psychopathy and depression. Moreover, there was little evidence that Boldness features protected against depression in the presence of the disinhibited and mean features of psychopathy. In addition, psychopathy broadly incremented general personality traits, specifically Extraversion and Neuroticism, in predicting depression, although the incremental contribution was relatively small in magnitude. Finally, psychopathy's differential associations with depression were largely mirrored in the relations among dimensions of psychopathy and other internalizing features, namely anger and anxiety. These findings demonstrate that individual differences in personality are significant predictors of depressive symptoms.

Table of Contents


Background.. 1 Introduction.. 1 Depression.. 2 History.... 2

Current conceptualization.... 3

Heterogeneity.... 3 Dimensionality.... 4

Personality risk factors.... 5

Psychopathic Personality.. 6

History.... 6

Current conceptualization and heterogeneity.... 6

Psychopathy and personality.. 9

Psychopathy and Depression. 11

Relations between total scores of psychopathy and depression.. 12

Limitations with the existing literature.... 12

Differential relations across psychopathy subdimensions.... 14

Current Study.. 16

Specific Aims and Hypotheses.. 17

Relations between psychopathy features and depression.... 17

Gender differences.... 17

Specificity.... 18

Boldness as a protective feature.... 19

Incremental validity above and beyond general personality.... 19

Methods.. 20

Sample 1.. 21

Participants.. 21 Measures.. 21

Sample 2.. 23

Participants.. 23 Measures.. 23 Results.. 25

Normative Data Comparisons.. 25

CESD-R.... 25

PROMIS Depression.... 26

Psychopathy.... 26

Replicability Across the Two Samples.. 27

Sample moderating the relations between psychopathy and depression.... 27

Differences in the means and variances among primary variables of interest.... 27

Relations Between Psychopathy and depression.. 28

Specificity of the Relations Between Psychopathy and Depression.. 30

Potential Protective Effects of Boldness Against Negative Emotionality.. 32

Gender Differences in the Relations between Psychopathy and Negative Emotionality.. 33

Incremental Validity of Psychopathy's Relations with Negative Emotionality.. 34

Discussion.. 35

Key Findings.. 36

Limitations.. 38

Future Directions.. 40

Heterogeneity of depression.... 41

Clinical applications.... 43

Associations with psychobiological models.... 44

Etiology.... 45 References.. 48 Tabled Results.. 70

T1: Intercorrelations Between Psychopathy Measures in Sample 1.. 70

T2: Intercorrelations Between Psychopathy Measures in Sample 2.. 71

T3: Intercorrelations Between Internalizing Measures in Sample 1.. 71

T4: Relations Between Psychopathy and Depression .. 73

T5: Relations Between Psychopathy and Negative Emotionality.. 74

T6: Statistical Interactions Among Dimensions of Psychopathy in Predicting Depression.. 75

T7: Incremental Validity of Psychopathy Above and Beyond General Personality.. 76

Appendices.. 77

S1: Comparison of Mean Depression and Psychopathy Scores to Other Samples.. 77

S2: Differences Between Sample Demographics for the Total Sample.. 78

S3: Differences Between Sample Demographics for Males and Females.. 79

S4: Differences in the Magnitudes of Correlations Between Psychopathy and Internalizing Features in Sample 2.. 80

S5: Mean Differences in Psychopathy and Internalizing Features by Gender.. 81

S6: Relations Between Psychopathy and HEXACO Personality in Sample 1.. 82

S7: Relations Between Psychopathy and BFI-44 in Sample 2.. 83

S8: Relations Between HEXACO Personality and Depression in Sample 1.. 84

S9: Relations Between BFI-44 Personality and Depression in Sample 2.. 85

S10: Intercorrelations Between Features of HEXACO Personality in Sample 1.. 86

S11: Intercorrelations Between Features of BFI Personality in Sample 2.. 87

S12: Relations Between BFI Personality and Other Internalizing Constructs in Sample 2.. 88

S13: Incremental Validity of General Personality Above and Beyond Psychopathy.. 89

S14: Distribution of CESD-R Total Scores in Sample 1.. 91

S15: Distribution of PPI-R Total Scores in Sample 1.. 92

S16: Distribution of CESD-R Total Scores in Sample 2.. 93

S17: Distribution of PROMIS Depression Total Scores in Sample 2.. 94

S18: Distribution of PPI-R Total Scores in Sample 2.. 95

About this Honors Thesis

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
  • English
Research Field
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Committee Members
Last modified

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files