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Psychophysiology. 1997 Mar;34(2):192-8.

The psychopathic individual: a lack of responsiveness to distress cues?

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University College, London, England.


In this study, we investigated the psychophysiological responsiveness of psychopathic individuals to distress cues and to threatening and neutral stimuli. Eighteen psychopathic individuals and 18 incarcerated control individuals, identified using the Revised Psychopathy Checklist (Hare, 1991, The Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised, Toronto: Multi-Health Systems), were shown slides of these three types of stimuli, and their electrodermal responses were recorded. The psychopathic individuals showed (relative to the controls) reduced electrodermal responses to the distress cues. In contrast, the two groups did not differ in their electrodermal responses to the threatening stimuli and to the neutral stimuli. The results are interpreted within the Violence Inhibition Mechanism model (Blair, 1995, Cognition, 57, 1-29) of the psychopathic individual.

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