Psychopathy and Antisocial Personality Disorder: Gender Differences in Empathy and Alexithymia

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Traditional conceptualizations of psychopathy highlight the importance of affective features of the syndrome in perpetuating social deviance. However, little research has directly investigated the callousness that psychopathic offenders display toward society and their victims. The current study investigated the roles of empathy and alexithymia in psychopathy among male and female incarcerated offenders, particularly in distinguishing psychopathy from antisocial personality disorder. Gender differences were also investigated. Regarding empathy, as predicted, group differences were largest between psychopathic and non-psychopathic offenders; no reliable differences emerged between psychopathic and APD-only offenders. In contrast, alexithymia robustly distinguished between offenders with prominent psychopathic traits, those with ... continued below

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Rogstad, Jill E. August 2011.

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  • Rogstad, Jill E.

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Traditional conceptualizations of psychopathy highlight the importance of affective features of the syndrome in perpetuating social deviance. However, little research has directly investigated the callousness that psychopathic offenders display toward society and their victims. The current study investigated the roles of empathy and alexithymia in psychopathy among male and female incarcerated offenders, particularly in distinguishing psychopathy from antisocial personality disorder. Gender differences were also investigated. Regarding empathy, as predicted, group differences were largest between psychopathic and non-psychopathic offenders; no reliable differences emerged between psychopathic and APD-only offenders. In contrast, alexithymia robustly distinguished between offenders with prominent psychopathic traits, those with only APD, and those with neither condition. Psychopathic females unexpectedly exhibited slightly higher levels of alexithymia than their male counterparts, while empathic deficits were relatively consistent across genders. These findings are discussed in terms of improving assessment methods for the accurate identification and treatment of offenders with prominent psychopathic features.

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  • August 2011

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Oct. 2, 2012, 4:18 p.m.

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  • March 20, 2017, 2:52 p.m.

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Rogstad, Jill E. Psychopathy and Antisocial Personality Disorder: Gender Differences in Empathy and Alexithymia, thesis, August 2011; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc103384/: accessed January 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .