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Personal Disord. 2016 Jul;7(3):269-79. doi: 10.1037/per0000183. Epub 2016 Apr 11.

Psychopathy: Relations with three conceptions of intelligence.

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Department of Psychology, Emory University.
University of Alabama.
Emory University.
Georgia Regents University.


Psychopathy is often associated with heightened intelligence in the eyes of clinicians and laypersons despite mixed research support for this possibility. We adopted a fine-grained approach to studying the relations among psychopathy and multiple indices of intelligence, including both cognitively based intelligence (CBI) and emotional intelligence (EI), in a large sample of undergraduates (N = 1,257, 70% female, 82% Caucasian). We found no clear support for marked associations between psychopathy and CB I measures, with the magnitudes of these relations being small. With the exception of the dimensions of Fearless Dominance (FD) and Coldheartedness (C), psychopathy dimensions were negatively associated with (EI). In contrast, we found some support for the hypothesis that intelligence served as a protective factor against antisocial behavior among individuals with high levels of psychopathy. On balance, our findings show weak relations between psychopathy and intelligence, suggesting that the link between them may be less robust than theoretical models portray, at least among undergraduates. (PsycINFO Database Record.

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