Gender, Psychopathy Factors, and Intimate Partner Violence

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Abstract

The present study sheds light on relationships between distinct psychopathic traits and perpetration of intimate partner violence (IPV) in women versus men. Men and women with recent drug and/or violence histories (N = 250) were assessed for psychopathic traits using the Psychopathy Checklist: Screening Version and for their and their partner's use of IPV with the Revised Conflict Tactics Scale. The first goal was to examine the moderating role of gender in psychopathy factor relationships to IPV. Although both the interpersonal-affective traits (Factor1) and the impulsive-antisocial traits (Factor 2) of psychopathy were related to higher frequency of IPV perpetration, the relationship between Factor 1 and IPV was stronger in men. Our second goal examined the moderating role of psychopathy traits in the relationship between partner's perpetration of IPV and participant perpetration (mutual violence) in the 2 genders. Relationships between partner- and self-IPV were similar at both low and high levels of Factor 1 in men, although the partner- and self-IPV relationship was significantly stronger among women at low relative to high levels of Factor 1. The relationship between partner- and self-IPV was stronger at high levels of Factor 2 in men, whereas Factor 2 did not moderate mutual violence in women. These results indicate that relationships between psychopathy factors and IPV differ by gender, with psychopathy generally exacerbating IPV perpetration in men and Factor 1 traits playing a unique role in mutual violence in women. These findings add to the literature on female psychopathy and have important implications for future research on gender and IPV.

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