Information Processing Capacity in Psychopathy: Effects of Anomalous Attention

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Abstract

Hamilton and colleagues (2015) recently proposed that an integrative deficit in psychopathy restricts simultaneous processing, thereby leaving fewer resources available for information encoding, narrowing the scope of attention, and undermining associative processing. The current study evaluated this parallel processing deficit proposal using the Simultaneous—Sequential paradigm. This investigation marks the first a priori test of the Hamilton et al.’s theoretical framework. We predicted that psychopathy would be associated with inferior performance (as indexed by lower accuracy and longer response time) on trials requiring simultaneous processing of visual information relative to trials necessitating sequential processing. Results were consistent with these predictions, supporting the proposal that psychopathy is characterized by a reduced capacity to process multicomponent perceptual information concurrently. We discuss the potential implications of impaired simultaneous processing for the conceptualization of the psychopathic deficit.

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