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Addict Behav. 2012 Aug;37(8):947-55. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2012.03.031. Epub 2012 Apr 5.

Personality mediators of psychopathy and substance dependence in male offenders.

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Department of Psychology, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton Campus, 38 Dineen Drive, Fredericton, NB, Canada.


Psychopathy and substance dependence (SUD) is highly prevalent in incarcerated populations and tends to co-occur in the same individuals. The factors underlying this relationship are not clearly understood. The primary purpose of this study was to investigate whether two personality models mediate the relationship between psychopathy and substance misuse in male offenders. Ninety-two inmates in provincial correctional centers in New Brunswick completed questionnaires, including the Sensitivity to Reward Sensitivity to Punishment Questionnaire to measure behavioral activation and behavioral inhibition, the Substance Use Risk Profile Scale to measure anxiety sensitivity, introversion/hopelessness, sensation seeking and impulsivity, and the Psychopathic Personality Inventory-Revised to assess psychopathy levels. Results revealed that high impulsivity indirectly mediated the relationship between psychopathy and stimulant dependence. In addition, low anxiety sensitivity indirectly mediated the relationship between psychopathy and opioid dependence. Finally, impulsivity indirectly and inconsistently mediated the relationship between psychopathy and alcohol dependence. These results suggest that individuals with psychopathic traits are at increased risk of misusing certain drugs due to underlying personality-based differences.

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