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J Abnorm Psychol. 2013 Nov;122(4):1088-93. doi: 10.1037/a0034062.

Revisiting psychopathy in women: Cleckley/Hare conceptions and affective response.

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Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Despite increased interest in female psychopathy, more work is needed to establish commonalities between the nomological networks for psychopathy in men and women. The current study sought to advance understanding of affective deficits in female psychopathy, as assessed by the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R). Forty-eight female inmates were tested in an affect-startle paradigm involving passive viewing of emotional and neutral picture stimuli. Results showed that women scoring high on PCL-R psychopathy exhibited deficits in startle reactivity to unpleasant pictures, especially with regard to victim-distress scenes, highlighting a specific insensitivity to the vicarious distress of others. The deficient affective modulation was specific to interpersonal-affective features and not adult/child antisocial features. These data confirm deficits in affective responding among women high on psychopathy, with implications for fear- versus empathy-related conceptualizations of psychopathic women.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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