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Investigating associations between empathy, morality and psychopathic personality traits in the general population

Seara-Cardoso, A; Neumann, C; Roiser, J; McCrory, E; Viding, E; (2012) Investigating associations between empathy, morality and psychopathic personality traits in the general population. Personality and Individual Differences , 52 (1) pp. 67-71. 10.1016/j.paid.2011.08.029. Green open access

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Abstract

Although atypical moral and empathy processing are considered core features of psychopathic personality, little is known about how these constructs are associated with psychopathic traits in the general population. One-hundred and twenty-four adult males from the community were administered the Self-Report Psychopathy Scale 4 Short Form, as well as a wide battery of affect, empathy and morality tasks and questionnaires. Our findings indicate that both core affective-interpersonal, as well as lifestyle-antisocial features of psychopathy are associated with weaker empathic responses to fearful faces. However, only the unique variance of the affective-interpersonal features is associated with weaker empathic response to happy stories, lower propensity to feel empathic concern and less difficulty in making decisions on moral dilemmas. In contrast, the unique variance of the lifestyle-antisocial features is associated with greater propensity to feel empathic concern. These preliminary findings extend previous research and suggest that, while the joint variance between affective-interpersonal and lifestyle-antisocial features might drive some ‘deficits’ associated with psychopathy, there also appears also to be unique ‘deficits’ associated with the core affective-interpersonal features, particularly in relation to affective aspects of moral processing.

Type: Article
Title: Investigating associations between empathy, morality and psychopathic personality traits in the general population
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2011.08.029
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2011.08.029
Language: English
Additional information: © 2012. This manuscript version is published under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Non-derivative 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). This licence allows you to share, copy, distribute and transmit the work for personal and non-commercial use providing author and publisher attribution is clearly stated. Further details about CC BY licences are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0.
Keywords: Psychopathy, Emotional empathy, Morality, Empathic concern, Moral emotions
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1328684
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