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Psychopathic traits and social reward

Foulkes, LE; (2015) Psychopathic traits and social reward. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Psychopathy is a personality disorder defined by atypical affective and interpersonal functioning, and impulsive and antisocial behaviour. This thesis explored associations between psychopathic traits and social reward processing in adults, and callous-unemotional (CU) traits and social reward processing in adolescents. The goal was to investigate what could potentially explain the atypical social behaviour seen in these individuals. In this thesis, five research questions were proposed. Firstly, in Chapter 2: What types of social interactions and relationships are valued by individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits? Secondly, in Chapter 3: What is the structure of social reward? Thirdly, in Chapter 4: In what way are psychopathic traits in adults associated with self-report and experimental measures of social reward? Finally, in Chapter 5: What is socially rewarding for adolescents, and in what way is this associated with callous-unemotional traits? The principal findings were as follows. In Chapter 2, I found that individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits were not motivated to have affiliative, long-term relationships. In Chapter 3, I developed and validated the Social Reward Questionnaire, a measure of individual differences in social reward value. In Chapter 4, I found that adults with high levels of psychopathic traits showed a pattern of ‘inverted’ social reward, in which being cruel was enjoyable and being kind was not. Additionally, social approval may have reward value for individuals with high levels of interpersonal psychopathic traits. In Chapter 5, I validated the Social Reward Questionnaire – Adolescent Version for use with 11-16 year olds. Like adults with high levels of psychopathic traits, adolescents with high levels of CU traits displayed a pattern of ‘inverted’ social reward. Together, these studies are an important initial exploration of the role that atypical social reward processing may play in explaining the problematic social behaviour seen in psychopathy.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Psychopathic traits and social reward
Event: UCL
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Third party copyright material has been removed from ethesis.
Keywords: psychopathic traits, social reward, callous unemotional traits
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
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1472389
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