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J Abnorm Psychol. 1994 Aug;103(3):523-34.

Emotion in the criminal psychopath: fear image processing.

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  • 1Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville 32610-0165.


We tested the hypothesis that the response mobilization that normally accompanies imagery of emotional situations is deficient in psychopaths. Cardiac, electrodermal, and facial muscle responses of 54 prisoners, assigned to low- and high-psychopathy groups using R. D. Hare's (1991) Psychopathy Checklist--Revised, were recorded while subjects imagined fearful and neutral scenes in a cued sentence-processing task. Groups did not differ on self-ratings of fearfulness, imagery ability, or imagery experience. Low-psychopathy subjects showed larger physiological reactions during fearful imagery than high-psychopathy subjects. Extreme scores on the antisocial behavior factor of psychopathy predicted imagery response deficits. Results are consistent with the idea that semantic and emotional processes are dissociated in psychopaths.

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