University of Tasmania
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Impulsive-aggression and psychopathic tendencies in female undergraduates

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posted on 2023-05-26, 20:11 authored by Crawley, Tess
Impulsive-aggression was investigated in a female university sample. A base rate analysis of impulsive-aggression in male (n=220) and female (n=686) university students at the University of Tasmania was conducted. As expected, males showed higher levels of impulsivity and aggression than females, and females were more empathic than males. Results from a background questionnaire indicated that some students reported psychosocial factors consistent with characteristic impulsive-aggression. Four groups of female students (impulsive-aggressive, n=23; aggressive, n=24; impulsive, n=33; and control, n=119) were then selected on the basis of impulsivity scores and aggression scores. In comparison to other women the impulsive-aggressive group was more physically aggressive and had a greater tendency to fight or argue. They were also more likely to report a drug problem, were more sexually active, and were more likely to have faced charges as a result of antisocial activity. They also reported a large number of suicide risk factors with fewer protective social supports in place. Surprisingly, the impulsive-aggressive group did not differ from other groups on empathy scores and had lower lie scores than the other three groups. The profile of impulsive-aggressive women was similar to the diagnostic criteria for antisocial personality disorder. Subsequent investigation of psychopathic traits was conducted. Women in the impulsive-aggressive (n=11), aggressive (n=9), impulsive (n=7), and control (n=11) groups were individually interviewed following the semi-structured interview format from the PCL:SV (Hart, Cox, & Hare, 1995) and subsequently rated using the P-Scan (Hare & Herve, 1999). The impulsive-aggressive group (M=6.33, SD=3.48) scored significantly higher than all other groups (Ms<1.70, SDs<1.90) on total P-Scan psychopathy ratings and on the three facets of the P-Scan. Attentional bias was investigated with the above interviewees completing a modified Stroop task, a dot probe (words) task, and a dot probe (faces) task. No significant group differences were found for reaction times to unpleasant (aggressive) or pleasant (neutral/happy) stimuli on the Stroop task or on either of the dot probe tasks. However, impulsive-aggressive women tended to show an attentional bias towards impulsive-aggressive words (e.g., 'rape') on the dot probe (words) task, whereas aggressive women showed an attentional bias away from impulsive-aggressive words. This was evident at the longer 1500ms stimulus duration but not at the shorter duration (100ms). In general it was shown that impulsive-aggressive women were distinct from their aggressive (and other) peers. It was concluded that impulsive-aggressive women have characteristics in common with sub-clinical psychopathy, as evidenced by their P-Scan scores, antisocial behaviours, and responses to affective stimuli. Results show support for a dimensional diagnostic approach to this disorder. Further research of the relationship between impulsive-aggression and sub-clinical psychopathic tendencies is warranted.


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Copyright 2004 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 2004. Includes bibliographical references

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