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J Abnorm Psychol. 2007 Aug;116(3):632-7.

Response perseveration in psychopaths: Interpersonal/affective or social deviance traits?

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Department of Basic and Clinical Psychology and Psychobiology, Jaume I University, Castellon, Spain.


In order to clarify the role of the two broad components of psychopathy (interpersonal/affective and social deviance; R. D. Hare, 2003) in explaining maladaptive response perseveration in psychopaths, as well as the role of reflection after punished responses in this deficit, the authors administered a card perseveration task to 47 Spanish male inmates assessed using the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R; R. D. Hare, 1991). Hierarchical regressions showed that psychopaths' maladaptive perseveration (more cards played and less money earned) was uniquely predicted by the social deviance features of psychopathy (PCL-R Factor 2)--particularly by its impulsive and irresponsible lifestyle facet (PCL-R Facet 3)--and not by its interpersonal/affective features (PCL-R Factor 1). Moreover, perseveration was related to a lack of reflection both after punishment and after reward feedback. The authors' results, in conjunction with previous evidence indicating perseverative deficits in several impulse control disorders, suggest that response perseveration may not be specific to psychopathy but rather is associated more generally with the externalizing dimension of psychopathology.

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