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Keywords:

  • Psychopathy;
  • Startle;
  • Skin conductance;
  • Psychopathic Personality Inventory;
  • Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire;
  • Community sample

Abstract

Psychopathy is a personality disorder with interpersonal–emotional and antisocial deviance facets. This study investigated these facets of psychopathy prospectively using normal-range personality traits in a community sample of young adult men who completed a picture-viewing task that included startle blink and skin conductance measures, like tasks used to study psychopathy in incarcerated men. Consistent with prior research, scores on the interpersonal–emotional facet of psychopathy (“fearless dominance”) were associated with deficient fear-potentiated startle. Conversely, scores on the social deviance facet of psychopathy (“impulsive antisociality”) were associated with smaller overall skin conductance magnitudes. Participants high in fearless dominance also exhibited deficient skin conductance magnitudes specifically to aversive pictures. Findings encourage further investigation of psychopathy and its etiology in community samples.