Graduation Year

2004

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Poythress, Norman.

Co-Major Professor

Epps, James.

Keywords

sub-types, violence, Antisocial Personality Disorder, cluster anlysis

Abstract

Psychopathy is not a diagnostic category, however theories of psychopathy have been discussed throughout psychological history. While the construct of psychopathy is associated with important psychological outcomes, there are inconsistencies in the literature with regard to correlates, etiology and treatment. These inconsistencies suggest that there may be several subtypes of psychopathy. This paper discusses the heterogeneity of psychopathy and considers the existence of psychopathic traits in nonclinical populations. Measures of etiology (Behavioral Activation System and Behavioral Inhibition System; Gray, 1985), psychopathy (Levenson's psychopathy measure; Levenson, Keihl, & Fitzpatrick, 1995) and anxiety (State Trait Anxiety Inventory; Speilberger, Gorsuch & Lushene, 1970) were used in Model based cluster analysis to investigate the existence of subtypes analogous to primary and secondary psychopathy in college students.

Four clusters emerged with cluster profiles differing in theoretically coherent ways. Two of the clusters were representative of subclinical primary and secondary psychopathy and the other two represented non-psychopathic groups. Research (Buss, 1961, Dodge, 1991) regarding aggression discriminates between two types of aggression: instrumental and hostile. The current study considered whether the subjects in clusters created by psychopathy data differ in terms of the types of aggression used. As expected, the Psychopathic Traits groups used more aggression than the Non-psychopathic Traits groups, and the Primary Psychopathic Traits group used more instrumental aggression than the Secondary Psychopathic Traits group. Overall, these results support the existence of subclinical subtypes of psychopathy that resemble, in meaningful ways, hypothetical clinical variants. The results also suggest that subtyping may have clinical and forensic utility in risk assessment.

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