Psychopathic personality traits: Heritability and genetic overlap with internalizing and externalizing pathology

Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus, Minneapolis, MN 55455-0344, USA.
Psychological Medicine (Impact Factor: 5.94). 06/2005; 35(5):637-48. DOI: 10.1017/S0033291704004180
Source: PubMed


Little research has examined genetic and environmental contributions to psychopathic personality traits. Additionally, no studies have examined etiological connections between psychopathic traits and the broad psychopathological domains of internalizing (mood and anxiety) and externalizing (antisocial behavior, substance abuse). The current study was designed to fill these gaps in the literature.
Participants were 626 pairs of 17-year-old male and female twins from the community. Psychopathic traits were indexed using scores on the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire (MPQ). Symptoms of internalizing and externalizing psychopathology were obtained via structured clinical interviews. Structural equation modeling was used to estimate genetic and environmental influences on psychopathic personality traits as well as the degree of genetic overlap between these traits and composites of internalizing and externalizing.
Twin analyses revealed significant genetic influence on distinct psychopathic traits (Fearless Dominance and Impulsive Antisociality). Moreover, Fearless Dominance was associated with reduced genetic risk for internalizing psychopathology, and Impulsive Antisociality was associated with increased genetic risk for externalizing psychopathology.
These results indicate that different psychopathic traits as measured by the MPQ show distinct genetically based relations with broad dimensions of DSM psychopathology.

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Available from: Brian M Hicks, Oct 01, 2015
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    • "Further, operationalization of the Triarchic constructs from item sets of existing inventories can provide a basis for examining their correlates and etiological bases in existing datasets, including genetically informed (i.e., twin) datasets (cf. Benning, Patrick, & Iacono, 2005; Blonigen, Hicks, Krueger, Patrick, & Iacono, 2005). In an initial effort along this line, Hall et al. (2014) developed Triarchic subscales using the items of the PPI and demonstrated convergent and discriminant validity for these subscales in relation to external variables of various types, including corresponding subscales of the TriPM. "
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    • "Thus, findings from the present study confirm that negative parenting contributes to the development of psychopathic personality (Patrick, 2005), although the effect sizes are small. Other factors that are likely to impact the development of psychopathy include genetic influences (Bezdjian et al., 2011a; Blonigen et al., 2005) and deficits in neurocognitive and affective-emotional processing (Gao, Glenn, Schug, Yang, & Raine, 2009). Psychopathic individuals have also been found to show reduced prefrontal structure and function, including the right orbitofrontal cortex, right anterior cingulate cortex, and left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (Gao et al., 2009). "
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