Psychopathy and Low Communion: An Overlooked and Underappreciated Core Feature

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Abstract

Psychopathy is a personality disorder that is robustly linked to interpersonal difficulties, delinquency, aggression, and general antisocial conduct. Previous research has explored a number of potential deficits underlying these behaviors including reduced fear, impaired emotional responding, and poor response modulation. Drawing from extant personality work that has demonstrated the importance of interpersonal antagonism as a core feature of psychopathy, the present project examines low communion as a potential core feature of the disorder in a novel manner—using a social discounting lab task. This possibility was examined in 195 undergraduate students (49% male) via a multimethod approach. In addition to a measure of psychopathy, participants completed a novel social discounting laboratory task designed to measure communion. Participants also completed self-report measures of communion and related constructs including the NEO Personality Inventory—Revised, Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire, and Interpersonal Adjective Scales. Results indicate that psychopathic individuals are lower in their level of communion and value social relationships less. Dysfunctions in communion should be studied more specifically in psychopathy as it may be a core feature of the disorder.

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