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      Capacity for Empathy and Emotional Contagion in Those With Psychopathic Personalities


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          People with psychopathic traits are sometimes adept at recognizing the emotions of others and using this knowledge in anti-social ways. However, data from incarcerated psychopaths suggest that they are incapable of true empathy. In this paper, we describe three studies that link psychopathic personality to emotional contagion and empathy, and we offer suggestions for reconciling the seemingly conflicting data. While most studies of psychopathic personality assess incarcerated respondents, the resulting data may not be generalizable to non-criminals; participants in these studies were recruited from the general population. The research confirms that empathy and emotional contagion are positively correlated and that each is negatively correlated with psychopathy, as expected. Unique to these studies is the finding that, when instructed, those with psychopathic traits can easily “catch” the emotions of others via the steps of the emotional contagion pathway, thus implying their capacity for empathy. However, without instruction, those with psychopathic traits did not automatically catch others’ emotions.

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          The NimStim set of facial expressions: judgments from untrained research participants.

          A set of face stimuli called the NimStim Set of Facial Expressions is described. The goal in creating this set was to provide facial expressions that untrained individuals, characteristic of research participants, would recognize. This set is large in number, multiracial, and available to the scientific community online. The results of psychometric evaluations of these stimuli are presented. The results lend empirical support for the validity and reliability of this set of facial expressions as determined by accurate identification of expressions and high intra-participant agreement across two testing sessions, respectively.
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            In this study, we describe a psychobiological model of the structure and development of personality that accounts for dimensions of both temperament and character. Previous research has confirmed four dimensions of temperament: novelty seeking, harm avoidance, reward dependence, and persistence, which are independently heritable, manifest early in life, and involve preconceptual biases in perceptual memory and habit formation. For the first time, we describe three dimensions of character that mature in adulthood and influence personal and social effectiveness by insight learning about self-concepts. Self-concepts vary according to the extent to which a person identifies the self as (1) an autonomous individual, (2) an integral part of humanity, and (3) an integral part of the universe as a whole. Each aspect of self-concept corresponds to one of three character dimensions called self-directedness, cooperativeness, and self-transcendence, respectively. We also describe the conceptual background and development of a self-report measure of these dimensions, the Temperament and Character Inventory. Data on 300 individuals from the general population support the reliability and structure of these seven personality dimensions. We discuss the implications for studies of information processing, inheritance, development, diagnosis, and treatment.
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                Author and article information

                An International Journal on Personal Relationships
                20 October 2017
                : 11
                : 1
                : 70-91
                [a ]Department of Psychology, University of Hawai’i at Manoa , Honolulu, HI, USA
                [b ]Department of Psychology, University of Alaska , Fairbanks, AK, USA
                Author notes
                [* ]Center for Health Information and Communication, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, Health Services Research and Development Service CIN 13-416, Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. Cherie.Luckhurst@ 123456VA.gov
                Copyright @ 2017

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) 3.0 License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


                emotion,personality disorder,psychopath,emotional contagion,empathy
                emotion, personality disorder, psychopath, emotional contagion, empathy


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