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Spatial Attention to Emotional Images and Psychopathic Personality Traits

Robert J. Snowden Orcid Logo, Ella Mitchell, Sarah K. Ojo, Rebecca Preedy-Lunt, Nicola Gray Orcid Logo

Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, Volume: 45

Swansea University Author: Nicola Gray Orcid Logo

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Abstract

Psychopathy has often been thought to be associated with a deficit in processing of the affective content of stimuli. This hypothesis was tested by examining if stimuli that depicted a threat to the viewer, or stimuli that depicted distressing scenes, would produce an automatic shift in spatial atte...

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Published in: Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment
ISSN: 0882-2689 1573-3505
Published: Springer Science and Business Media LLC 2022
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa62063
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Abstract: Psychopathy has often been thought to be associated with a deficit in processing of the affective content of stimuli. This hypothesis was tested by examining if stimuli that depicted a threat to the viewer, or stimuli that depicted distressing scenes, would produce an automatic shift in spatial attention, and whether this effect would be modified by individual differences in trait psychopathy as conceptualised by the triarchic model of psychopathy. Using a large mixed gender community sample (N = 286) it was found that spatial attention was averted away from threat stimuli for both short (200 ms) and long (500 ms) periods from cue to target, while the distress cues did not produce any spatial attention shifts. The trait of Meanness was found to be associated with a reduction in the effect of threat stimuli, while the trait of Disinhibition was found to be associated with an increase in this threat effect. However, the dot-probe task showed poor reliability. We conclude that the callous unemotional aspects of psychopathy, as captured by the Meanness scale, are underpinned by a lack of response to affective information, whereas impulsive/irresponsible traits of psychopathy, as captured by the Disinhibition scale, are underpinned by an exaggerated response to such affective information.
Keywords: Dot probe task; psychopathy; triarchic model; TriPM; spatial attention; Meanness; Disinhibition
College: Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences
Funders: No funds, grants, or other support was received.