Psychopathy and Antisocial Behaviour: The Moderating Effects of Maternal Neglect and Warmth

Psychopathy and Antisocial Behaviour: The Moderating Effects of Maternal Neglect and Warmth. Poster presented at the Sixth Biennial Meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Psychopathy, June 25-27, 2015, Chicago, IL USA.

Nathalie Y. Gauthier and Angela S. Book, Brock University

Psychopathy has been most often conceptualized using Hare’s 2-Factor model, which includes interpersonal and affective traits (Factor 1), and a behaviour component relating to erratic and antisocial tendencies (Factor 2). There is ongoing debate about the role of antisociality in psychopathy, with some areas of research that identify non-criminal psychopathy, or “successful” psychopathy. Past research has implied the role of an aversive childhood environment (e.g., poor quality of parental relationship, abuse) in explaining negative outcomes (e.g., antisocial behaviour, aggression) in those high in psychopathic personality traits. The current study investigated whether early childhood environment moderated the relationship between the interpersonal and affective traits of psychopathy (Factor 1) and antisocial behaviour (part of Factor 2) in a community sample. Specifically, retrospective reports of Childhood Abuse and Parental Neglect (from Mother and Father separately) were included as risk factors, and were predicted to interact with psychopathic personality traits to be associated with higher antisocial behaviour. Parental Warmth was included as a protective factor, and was expected to predict lower Antisocial Behaviour scores in those high in psychopathic traits. Using hierarchical multiple regression analyses it was found that men scored higher in Antisocial Behaviour than women, and thus analyses were conducted separately by sex.

Further, a main effect of Childhood abuse was found, predicting higher Antisocial Behaviour scores. Only Maternal Neglect significantly interacted with Factor 1 traits to predict higher antisocial behaviour scores in men. Maternal Warmth also interacted with Factor 1 to predict lower Antisocial Behaviour Scores in men. No moderation effect was found in women. Thus, it seems that, in men, the relationship with the mother serves as an important factor in the development of antisocial behaviour in psychopathy. This may provide some insight into why some individuals high in psychopathic traits are low in overt antisociality or criminality (“successful” psychopaths), while others are highly antisocial or criminal (“unsuccessful” psychopaths).

 

Psychopathy and Antisocial Behaviour:

The Moderating Effects of Maternal Neglect and Warmth

 

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