Is Low Anxiety Part of the Psychopathy Construct?


  • Beth A. Visser is now at Trent University (Oshawa), Department of Psychology.
  • This research was supported by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada grant 2007-2159. We thank Christine DuRoss for her assistance with data collection.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Beth A. Visser, Department of Psychology, Trent University Oshawa, 55 Thornton Road South, Oshawa, ON, Canada L1J 5Y1. Email:


Low anxiety has traditionally been considered a feature of psychopathy, but there has been mixed research support for this conceptualization. We investigated the PPI-R-SF Stress Immunity subscale (a measure of low anxiety) in relation to 2 widely used self-report psychopathy scales in a sample of 346 undergraduate students. Results indicated that PPI-R-SF Stress Immunity was nearly unrelated to other indicators of psychopathy, showing a near-zero loading on the common psychopathy factor defined jointly by the scales of the PPI-R-SF and SRP-III. Stress Immunity also showed a pattern of personality and temperament correlates much different from those of other psychopathy subscales. Finally, Stress Immunity had a slight negative correlation with self-reports of diverse antisocial acts. These results suggest that despite its historical importance in the conceptualization of psychopathy, low anxiety is likely not a core feature of psychopathy.