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J Abnorm Psychol. 2005 May;114(2):187-96.

Reduced electrodermal activity in psychopathy-prone adolescents.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-1061, USA.


This study tests the hypothesis that psychopathy-prone adolescents show reduced anticipatory skin conductance responding. Electrodermal activity was recorded while participants anticipated and responded to a 105 dB signaled or unsignaled white-noise burst. Using an extreme groups design, the authors used Child Psychopathy Scale (D. R. Lynam, 1997) scores from a community sample of 335 male adolescents (age 16) to form control (n = 65) and psychopathy-prone (n = 65) groups. Significantly more psychopathy-prone participants were nonresponders in the signaled anticipatory (p = .014), signaled responsivity (p = .037), and unsignaled responsivity (p = .003) conditions compared with controls. Anticipatory hyporesponsivity of psychopathy-prone adolescents similar to the electrodermal hyporesponsivity found in psychopathic adults suggests that this autonomic impairment is present by adolescence and may predispose individuals to adult psychopathy.

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