Psychopathy and Attachment: The Effect of Security Priming on Psychopathy in a College Student Sample
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Thesis (open access)
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Department of Psychology
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Psychopathy has been defined as a pattern of negative behaviors, social interactions, and affective features, including impoverishment of emotion, unethical and manipulative actions, and impulsivity (Neumann & Hare, 2008). It is estimated that between 15 to 30 percent of incarcerated adults meet the criteria for psychopathy (Hare, 1991, 1996; Salekin, Rogers, Ustad, & Sewell, 1998). Because psychopathy is linked with deviant behaviors and a significant portion of incarcerated adults are high in psychopathy, methods of reducing psychopathy are needed. The current longitudinal study sought to reduce state psychopathy levels through secure attachment priming. It was first hypothesized that the mean of state levels of psychopathy would correlate with trait measures of psychopathy. Secondly, it was hypothesized that participants primed with secure attachment would report higher levels of state secure attachment and lower levels of state avoidant and anxious attachment. Finally, it was hypothesized that participants primed with secure attachment would report lower levels of state psychopathy than participants primed with a neutral concept. Forty undergraduate students (33 women and 7 men) participated in the experiment. Results indicated that the mean of state levels of psychopathy were positively associated with trait measures of psychopathy. Contrary to hypotheses, however, the secure attachment prime did not significantly affect levels of state security, anxiety, or avoidance, and the security prime did not reduce state levels of psychopathy over time. These findings provide initial support for a measure of state psychopathy, and call for further research to better understand the relationship between attachment and psychopathy.
Herd, Blake D., "Psychopathy and Attachment: The Effect of Security Priming on Psychopathy in a College Student Sample" (2015). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1225.