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Neuropsychiatr. 2012;26(2):65-71. doi: 10.1007/s40211-012-0015-9. Epub 2012 Jul 27.

[Impaired resonance in offenders with psychopathic traits].

[Article in German]

Author information

  • 1Forschungsbereich für Klinische und Soziale Psychiatrie, Psychiatrische Universitätsklinik Zürich, Militärstrasse 8, PF 1930, 8021, Zürich, Schweiz, florence.hagenmuller@dgsp.uzh.ch.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Resonance is the phenomenon of unconsciously mirroring the motor actions of another person. Beside autism and schizophrenia psychopathic personality traits are associated with empathy dysfunction.

METHODS:

We explore empathic resonance in terms of contagion by laughing and yawning in a group of offenders with psychopathic traits. Offenders with psychopathic traits (n = 12) and matched controls (n = 10) were video-taped while watching short video sequences of yawning, laughing or neutral faces. They were rated regarding contagion. Further, we assessed a self-report on psychopathy and on empathic tendencies.

RESULTS:

Compared to the control group, the offenders showed significantly less contagion and less self-reported empathic tendencies. Individuals who rated themselves as more empathic showed more contagion.

CONCLUSIONS:

The observed reduced resonance in terms of contagion may illuminate the cold-heartedness, with which some psychopathic offenders treat their victims: When embodied experiencing of other's physical and emotional situation is missing, a natural inhibition of violence may be overcome. The small sample size limits the generalisability of these findings.

PMID:
22836550
[PubMed - in process]
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