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Role of psychopathic personality traits on the micro-structure of free-operant responding: impacts on goal-directed but not stimulus-drive responses in extinction

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Abstract

The current study explored effects of psychopathic personality traits on micro-structure of free-operant responding. Non-clinical participants were recruited, and responded on a multiple random-ratio (RR) random-interval (RI) schedule for points, prior to being placed into extinction. They completed the TriPM to measure psychopathic personality, and were divided into those scoring lower and higher on the sub-scales of the TriPM (meanness, boldness, disinhibition). Responding was higher on RR than RI schedules, with no difference between rates of bout-initiation, but higher rates of within-bout responding the RR schedule. Extinction reduced responding after an initial response burst. No personality traits impacted acquisition of overall free-operant responding, nor its microstructure. However, meanness retarded the course of extinction after promoting an initial response burst. The results suggest psychotics are more goal-directed, consistent with meanness being associated with aggression and low tolerance to frustration, potentiating frustrative non-reward effects.
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