Early Temperamental and Psychophysiological Precursors of Adult Psychopathic Personality

Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA.
Journal of Abnormal Psychology (Impact Factor: 5.15). 09/2007; 116(3):508-18. DOI: 10.1037/0021-843X.116.3.508
Source: PubMed


Emerging research on psychopathy in children and adolescents raises the question of whether indicators, such as temperament or psychophysiology, exist very early in life in those with a psychopathic-like personality in adulthood. This study tests the hypothesis that individuals who are more psychopathic in adulthood would be less fearful and inhibited and more stimulation seeking/sociable at age 3 and that they would also show reduced age 3 skin-conductance (SC) responsivity. In a community sample of 335 3-year-olds, behavioral measures of temperament were taken and electrodermal activity was recorded in response to both orienting and aversive tones. R. D. Hare's (1985) Self-Report Psychopathy scale (SRP-II) was administered at follow-up at age 28. Individuals scoring higher on the measure were significantly less fearful and inhibited, were more sociable, and displayed longer SC half-recovery times to aversive stimuli compared with controls at age 3. Contrary to predictions, they also showed increased autonomic arousal and SC orienting. Findings appear to be the first to suggest that a prospective link may exist between temperament and psychophysiology in very young children and psychopathic personality in adulthood.

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Available from: Andrea L Glenn, Jun 11, 2015
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    • "Although the applicability of a stable adult personality construct to youths has been questioned (Edens et al., 2001; Hart et al., 2002; Seagrave and Grisso, 2002), considerable support for childhood psychopathy exists. Children as young as three years of age have been found to exhibit classic characteristics of psychopathy (Glenn et al., 2007), and these reliably predict adult psychopathic behaviour (e.g. Lynam et al., 2009; Martens, 2000). "
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose - This paper aims to provide a critical review of the psychopathy literature, with a particular focus on recent research examining the relationship between psychopathy and various forms of criminal behaviour. Design/methodology/approach - The authors provide an overview of the studies conducted to date. To identify relevant publications for inclusion in this review, literature searches were completed using Web of Science, Scopus, PsychINFO, and PubMed. Findings - Substantial empirical research exists to suggest that psychopathy is a robust predictor of criminal behaviour and recidivism. Furthermore, considerable support for the assertion that the violence perpetrated by psychopathic offenders is more instrumental than the violence committed by other offenders was found. In addition, some research suggests that the greater use of instrumental violence among psychopathic offenders may be due to the Interpersonal-Affective traits of psychopathy, and not the Impulsive-Antisocial traits. Originality/value – The current paper is the first to provide an in-depth review of the literature examining the association between psychopathy and criminal offending with a particular focus on violent and homicidal behaviour.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2013
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    • "Youths who scored high on psychopathic traits exhibited reduced skin conductance activity when anticipating and responding to aversive stimuli compared to control youths with normative levels of psychopathic traits. Glenn et al. (2007) "
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    ABSTRACT: This article provides a comprehensive review of the research on the use of callous and unemotional (CU) traits for designating an important subgroup of children and adolescents with severe conduct problems. It focuses on the etiological significance of recognizing this subgroup of youths with severe conduct problems, its implications for diagnostic classification, and the treatment implications of this research. The review highlights limitations in existing research and provides directions for future research. The available research suggests that children and adolescents with severe conduct problems and elevated CU traits show distinct genetic, cognitive, emotional, biological, environmental, and personality characteristics that seem to implicate different etiological factors underlying their behavior problems relative to other youths with severe conduct problems. Recognizing these subgroups could be critical for guiding future research on the causes of severe conduct problems in children and adolescents. Further, children and adolescents with both severe conduct problems and elevated CU traits appear to be at risk for more severe and persistent antisocial outcomes, even controlling for the severity of their conduct problems, the age of onset of their conduct problems, and common comorbid problems, which supports the clinical importance of designating this group in diagnostic classification systems. Finally, although children and adolescents with both severe conduct problems and elevated CU traits tend to respond less positively to typical interventions provided in mental health and juvenile justice settings, they show positive responses to certain intensive interventions tailored to their unique emotional and cognitive characteristics. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2013 · Psychological Bulletin
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    • "Psychopathy affects both children and adults. Markers of psychopathy may emerge early in childhood (Glenn et al., 2007; Wang et al., 2012), are moderately reliable predictors of adult psychopathy (Lynam et al., 2008), and the core affective features of psychopathy appear to be highly heritable (Larsson et al., 2006). The heritability coefficient of the core callous and unemotional features has been estimated to be at least 0.43 (Larsson et al., 2006) and as high as 0.71 (Viding et al., 2005, 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: Psychopathy is a developmental disorder associated with core affective traits, such as low empathy, guilt, and remorse, and with antisocial and aggressive behaviors. Recent neurocognitive and neuroimaging studies of psychopathy in both institutionalized and community samples have begun to illuminate the basis of this condition, in particular the ways that psychopathy affects the experience and recognition of fear. In this review, I will consider how understanding emotional processes in psychopathy can shed light on the three questions central to the study of emotion: (1) Are emotions discrete, qualitatively distinct phenomena, or quantitatively varying phenomena best described in terms of dimensions like arousal and valence? (2) What are the brain structures involved in generating specific emotions like fear, if any? And (3) how do our own experiences of emotion pertain to our perceptions of and responses to others' emotion? I conclude that insights afforded by the study of psychopathy may provide better understanding of not only fundamental social phenomena like empathy and aggression, but of the basic emotional processes that motivate these behaviors.
    Full-text · Article · May 2013 · Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
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