Unprovoked Aggression: Effects of Psychopathic Traits and Sadism
Article first published online: 11 JAN 2011
© 2011 The Authors. Journal of Personality © 2011, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Journal of Personality
Volume 79, Issue 1, pages 75–100, February 2011
How to Cite
Reidy, D. E., Zeichner, A. and Seibert, L. A. (2011), Unprovoked Aggression: Effects of Psychopathic Traits and Sadism. Journal of Personality, 79: 75–100. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.2010.00691.x
- Issue published online: 11 JAN 2011
- Article first published online: 11 JAN 2011
- Accepted manuscript online: 2 SEP 2010 09:26AM EST
ABSTRACT Psychopathic individuals engage in the most violent and cold-blooded acts of aggression. In the laboratory, psychopathy traits have been linked to the commission of unprovoked aggression. The purpose of this study was to assess affective motives that may underlie the relationship between psychopathy and unprovoked aggression. One hundred thirty-seven men viewed a series of photographs depicting violent imagery, completed a lexical decision task designed to assess state affect, and competed in a laboratory-based aggression paradigm. Results indicated that participants who responded faster to happiness words after viewing violent imagery (i.e., sadistic) were significantly more likely to engage in unprovoked aggression. Additionally, Factor 1 psychopathy (emotional detachment) predicted increased probability of unprovoked aggression; however, this relationship was not mediated by sadism. Rather, Factor 1 and sadism each independently predicted unprovoked aggression. The implications of the present data suggest that the type of violence evinced may inform the risk for perpetration of future acts. That is, the individual who demonstrates unprovoked violence may be more likely to employ aggressive tactics across situational contexts than the individual who demonstrates only impulsive acts of hostile/reactive aggression.