Psychopathy - Psychophysiology of Psychopathic Personality...

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Unformatted text preview: Psychophysiology of Psychopathic Personality Presenter: Joshua Isen Who are Psychopaths? "Moral imbeciles" who are neither intellectually impaired nor psychotic Cleckley's (1941) "Mask of Sanity" described a class of individuals with the following traits: Fearlessness Detached, shallow emotions Arrogance and deceitfulness Undercontrolled behavior (e.g. impulsiveness and aggression). ASPD & Psychopathy Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) is largely based on criminal conduct and other observable behavior. Majority of prisoners meet criteria for APSD Psychopathy includes motivational, subjective qualities. Not included in the DSMIV Only a fraction of prisoners are psychopaths Two Factors Hare's (1991) Psychopathy Checklist contains two global factors: "Psychopaths are social predators who charm, manipulate, and ruthlessly plow their way through life, leaving a broad trail of broken hearts, shattered expectations, and empty wallets." Hare (1993) 1) Selfish, Callous, and Remorseless Use of Others 2) Chronically Unstable and Antisocial Lifestyle Skin Conductance Activity Skin conductance (electrodermal activity) is an index of the sympathetic nervous system. Low sympathetic arousal Psychopaths are electrodermally calm: Less spontaneous activity blunted experience of nervousness and anxiety Emotional deficits Fearlessness deficient fear conditioning Fewer electrodermal responses in anticipation of an aversive stimulus Smaller startle response (often measured by eyeblink magnitude) Skin Conductance Responses Skin conductance responses (SCRs) can be elicited by specific stimuli. Psychopaths may have smaller SCRs to these stimuli. Lack of Empathy Psychopaths may be especially unresponsive to sad, distressing stimuli Lower SCR amplitude to distress cues May show lower responses to threat Distress Cue Threatening Behavioral Undercontrol Prefrontal impairment may contribute to impulsiveness, failure to plan ahead, and inappropriate social behavior. Deficits are broad, they may characterize the entire spectrum of externalizing disorders: ADHD, substance abuse, conduct disorder, ASPD, etc. Smaller orienting responses Orienting Response Skin conductance orienting response is triggered by the novelty of a neutral stimulus Aggressive and delinquent preadolescents display fewer orienting responses. This is mainly true for children from higher social classes (Raine et al. 1997). Reduced SCR Children with ADHD + conduct disorder have reduced SCR amplitude to orienting stimuli. ADHD children and juvenile delinquents show fewer spontaneous fluctuations Spontaneous Fluctuations Source: Beauchaine et al. (2001), Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 110(4), p.619 Personality Personality disorders can be described in terms of normal personality traits. Externalizing vs. internalizing continuum: Externalizers channel energy outward (act out), often engaging in disruptive behavior Internalizers channel activity inward, often ruminating and inhibiting their behavior. Neuroticism Extraversion Openness to experience Conscientiousness Agreeableness 5factor model of personality Skin Conductance & Personality Electrodermally underreactive adolescents are impulsive, more talkative, attentionseeking, aggressive, and domineering (Fowles, 2000). Reactive subjects are prone to worry, relatively submissive, cautious, cooperative, and protective of others. Gender & crosscultural differences Socialization Electrodermally arousable persons may be more conducive to classical conditioning, and hence socialization. Eysenck's (1977) socializationconditioning theory: The development of conscience stems from classically conditioned responses in childhood. Conditionability is a biologicallybased individual difference Conscience via Classical Conditioning CS + UCS UCR Sin + Discipline Pain/Shame CS CR Sin (or thoughts of sinning) is unconsciously associated with disciplinary consequences. If we are not punished after committing wrongdoing, we feel guilt. Sin (CS) Pain/Shame (CR) Biosocial Interaction Children from lower social classes are at greater risk for delinquency. Children born to highSES families are subjected to better influences. Therefore, genetic/biological factors assume greater importance in explaining why a highSES child turns out antisocial. Antisocial children who were raised in a good environment should be less arousable (less conditionable). Biosocial Interaction Source: Raine & Venables (1981), Personality & Individual Differences, 2, p.280 Concluding Remarks Lower arousal/reactivity is associated with psychopathic traits Broad personality traits are correlated with skin conductance activity Personality disorders can be considered an extreme manifestation of basic personality patterns Sociocultural and biological factors are both important ...
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This note was uploaded on 02/28/2008 for the course PSYC 360 taught by Professor Borders during the Fall '07 term at USC.

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