Psychopathy and Negative Emotionality: Analyses of Suppressor Effects Reveal Distinct Relations With Emotional Distress, Fearfulness, and Anger-Hostility

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Abstract

Low negative emotionality (NEM) holds a central place in classic descriptions and seminal theories of psychopathy. However, the empirical link between low NEM and psychopathy is weak. The authors posited that this inconsistency is due to the multifaceted nature of both the NEM and psychopathy constructs and to suppressor effects between facets of psychopathy in relation to NEM criteria. The authors sought to delineate the differential associations between facets of psychopathy and NEM in a large sample of male prisoners using the Psychopathy Checklist—Revised (PCL-R; R. D. Hare, 2003) and self-report measures assessing different aspects of NEM. Statistical analyses revealed that the interpersonal-affective facet of psychopathy is negatively associated whereas the social deviance facet of psychopathy is positively associated with facets of NEM. The results demonstrate that suppressor effects can reconcile the centrality of NEM in classic descriptions of psychopathy with empirical investigations using the PCL-R.

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