Location

Nessmith-Lane Atrium

Session Format

Poster Presentation

Research Area Topic:

Humanities & Social Sciences - Psychology, Sociology & Political Science

Co-Presenters, Co- Authors, Co-Researchers, Mentors, or Faculty Advisors

Jessica Davis (Georgia Southern University)

Kylan Jackson (Georgia Southern University)

Amy A. Hackney (Georgia Southern University)

Abstract

Psychopathy is a disorder encompassing a distinct set of interpersonal, affective, and behavioral traits including lack of empathy and remorse, manipulativeness, callousness, selfishness, antisocial lifestyle, impulsivity, aggressiveness, and social deviance. It is estimated that approximately 15-25% of incarcerated individuals and 0.6-1% of individuals within the community are high in psychopathy (Coid, Yang, Ullrich, Roberts, & Hare, 2009; Hare, 2003). Since psychopathic traits are linked with deviant behavioral outcomes and the prevalence rates are relatively high within forensic and community populations, interventions designed to target the core personality deficits and reduce psychopathic tendencies are needed. The current study seeks to induce affective (condition 1) and cognitive empathy (condition 2) in college students exhibiting varying degrees of psychopathy and examine the effects of this empathy manipulation on subsequent prosocial helping behaviors. Since individuals high in psychopathy are characteristically self-centered and lack empathic concern for others, they are less likely to engage in altruistic helping behaviors than individuals lower in psychopathy. Therefore, it is hypothesized that an increase in empathy will lead to an increased propensity to participate in altruistic helping for college students exhibiting high levels of psychopathy. To test this hypothesis, approximately 300 college students will listen to a radio broadcast about a young woman in need with specific empathy-related instructions (e.g., U feel with the target U or imagine yourself as the target t) and complete measures assessing psychopathy, subsequent emotional reactions, self-other overlap, and prosocial helping. After data collection is completed (March, 2015), an analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) will be utilized to test the main hypothesis by examining the relationship between psychopathic traits, empathy, and prosocial helping behaviors. The current research will help to clarify and expand our understanding of the relationship between psychopathy, empathy, and prosocial helping. In addition, this research will look to assess the malleability of psychopathic traits, which has important implications in terms of our general understanding of the psychopathic personality as well as in the development of more effective treatment methods for these individuals.

Keywords

Georgia Southern University, Research Symposium, Psychopathy, Empathy, Perspective-taking instructions, Prosocial helping

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Presentation Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

Start Date

4-16-2016 2:45 PM

End Date

4-16-2016 4:00 PM

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Apr 16th, 2:45 PM Apr 16th, 4:00 PM

Psychopathy, Empathy, and Prosocial Helping: Can You Increase Altruistic Helping For Individuals High In Psychopathy?

Nessmith-Lane Atrium

Psychopathy is a disorder encompassing a distinct set of interpersonal, affective, and behavioral traits including lack of empathy and remorse, manipulativeness, callousness, selfishness, antisocial lifestyle, impulsivity, aggressiveness, and social deviance. It is estimated that approximately 15-25% of incarcerated individuals and 0.6-1% of individuals within the community are high in psychopathy (Coid, Yang, Ullrich, Roberts, & Hare, 2009; Hare, 2003). Since psychopathic traits are linked with deviant behavioral outcomes and the prevalence rates are relatively high within forensic and community populations, interventions designed to target the core personality deficits and reduce psychopathic tendencies are needed. The current study seeks to induce affective (condition 1) and cognitive empathy (condition 2) in college students exhibiting varying degrees of psychopathy and examine the effects of this empathy manipulation on subsequent prosocial helping behaviors. Since individuals high in psychopathy are characteristically self-centered and lack empathic concern for others, they are less likely to engage in altruistic helping behaviors than individuals lower in psychopathy. Therefore, it is hypothesized that an increase in empathy will lead to an increased propensity to participate in altruistic helping for college students exhibiting high levels of psychopathy. To test this hypothesis, approximately 300 college students will listen to a radio broadcast about a young woman in need with specific empathy-related instructions (e.g., U feel with the target U or imagine yourself as the target t) and complete measures assessing psychopathy, subsequent emotional reactions, self-other overlap, and prosocial helping. After data collection is completed (March, 2015), an analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) will be utilized to test the main hypothesis by examining the relationship between psychopathic traits, empathy, and prosocial helping behaviors. The current research will help to clarify and expand our understanding of the relationship between psychopathy, empathy, and prosocial helping. In addition, this research will look to assess the malleability of psychopathic traits, which has important implications in terms of our general understanding of the psychopathic personality as well as in the development of more effective treatment methods for these individuals.