Impaired Reversal but Intact Acquisition: Probabilistic Response Reversal Deficits in Adult Individuals With Psychopathy

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The performance of adult psychopathic individuals on a novel response reversal task involving 2 reward-punishment contingencies (100–0 and 80–20) was investigated. In line with predictions, adults with psychopathy presented with impairment on the response reversal component but not on the acquisition component of this task. This selective impairment for response reversal was seen for both reward-punishment contingencies and was related to the tendency of individuals with psychopathy to be less likely to stay with a rewarded correct response to a stimulus on the subsequent presentation of that stimulus. Results are discussed with reference to current models of the development of psychopathy.

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