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Affective Psychopathic Traits Predict Decreased Cortisol Response to Psychosocial Stress

Title: Affective Psychopathic Traits Predict Decreased Cortisol Response to Psychosocial Stress.
Name(s): Johnson, Megan M., author
Taylor, Jeanette, professor directing dissertation
Stewart, Eric, university representative
Carbonell, Joyce, committee member
Patrick, Christopher, committee member
Eckel, Lisa, committee member
Department of Psychology, degree granting department
Florida State University, degree granting institution
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2013
Publisher: Florida State University
Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) represents a heterogeneous diagnostic classification as individuals with this disorder can vary considerably in their symptom presentation. Research examining underlying risk factors for antisocial behavior could aid in understanding its manifestation and foster hypotheses regarding potential intervention strategies. The current study tested the hypothesis that, among antisocial incarcerated individuals, affective psychopathic traits mediate the relationship between low cortisol reactivity and proactive aggression, and impulsivity mediates the relationship between high cortisol reactivity and reactive aggression. A sample of 49 young adult male offenders aged 18 and older were recruited to complete a performance-based stressor task as well as interviews and self-report measures assessing psychopathy, aggression, and impulsivity. Salivary hormone samples were taken just prior to the Trier Social Stress Test (baseline) and at 20 min post-stressor. Ultimately, results did not support the hypotheses, suggesting that cortisol reactivity alone lacks specificity in prediction of psychopathic traits, impulsivity, and aggression. Given that previous research has demonstrated Factor 1 psychopathic traits are significantly predictive of blunted cortisol reactivity to the TSST in college students, exploratory analyses tested whether this finding could be replicated in a severely antisocial incarcerated sample. Results indicated that affective psychopathic traits in particular predicted significant cortisol decline in response to the stressor. Results of this project highlight the directionality of the relationship between psychopathic traits and cortisol reactivity, suggesting that blunted or declining cortisol reactivity may be a symptom of psychopathic traits, not a causal factor.
Identifier: FSU_migr_etd-7438 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Psychology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Summer Semester, 2013.
Date of Defense: November 19, 2012.
Keywords: Cortisol, HPA axis, psychopathy, TSST
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Jeanette Taylor, Professor Directing Dissertation; Eric Stewart, University Representative; Joyce Carbonell, Committee Member; Christopher Patrick, Committee Member; Lisa Eckel, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Psychology
Persistent Link to This Record:
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Host Institution: FSU

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Johnson, M. M. (2013). Affective Psychopathic Traits Predict Decreased Cortisol Response to Psychosocial Stress. Retrieved from