Display Settings:

Format

Send to:

Choose Destination
We are sorry, but NCBI web applications do not support your browser and may not function properly. More information
J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2011 Aug;52(8):834-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2010.02353.x. Epub 2010 Dec 14.

Adolescents with psychopathic traits report reductions in physiological responses to fear.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20057, USA. aam72@georgetown.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Psychopathy is characterized by profound affective deficits, including shallow affect and reduced empathy. Recent research suggests that these deficits may apply particularly to negative emotions, or to certain negative emotions such as fear. Despite increased focus on the cognitive and neural underpinnings of psychopathy, little is known about how psychopathy is associated with emotional deficits across a range of emotions. In addition, the relationship between psychopathy and the subjective experience of emotion has not yet been assessed.

METHODS:

  Eighteen 10-17-year-olds with psychopathic traits and 24 comparison children and adolescents reported on their subjective experiences of emotion during five recent emotionally evocative life events, following a paradigm developed by Scherer and colleagues (Scherer & Wallbott, 1994). Group comparisons were then performed to assess variations in subjective experiences across emotions.

RESULTS:

As predicted, psychopathy was associated with reductions in the subjective experience of fear relative to other emotions. Children and adolescents with psychopathic traits reported fewer symptoms associated with sympathetic nervous system arousal during fear-evoking experiences.

CONCLUSIONS:

Rather than being related to uniformly impoverished emotional experience, psychopathic traits appear to be associated with greater deficits in subjective experiences of fear. This pattern of responding supports and extends previous observations that psychopathy engenders deficits in fear learning, physiological responses to threats, and the recognition of fear in others.

© 2010 The Authors. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry © 2010 Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health.

Comment in

PMID:
21155775
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3116087
Free PMC Article

Images from this publication.See all images (1)Free text

Figure 1
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Blackwell Publishing Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk