Associations among the triarchic psychopathic constructs, five-factor model of personality, narcissism, disinhibition, and substance use in college students

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kristen A. Kemp (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
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Kia Asberg

Abstract: The term “psychopathy” has had a controversial past with varying conceptualizations and definitions. Presently, psychopathy is “considered to entail persistent behavioral deviancy in the company of emotional-interpersonal detachment” (Patrick, 2010, p. 2). To explain psychopathy,Patrick (2010) formed the Triarchic Model of psychopathy, which divides psychopathy into three phenotypic constructs: disinhibition, boldness, and meanness. Disinhibition is explained by having a lack of impulse control, being irresponsible, and a dysregulation of emotions. Boldness is explained by social dominance, “high social efficacy, emotional resilience, [and] low stress reactivity” (p.3). Lastly, meanness is explained by deficiencies in empathy, being callous, and lack of attachment to others (Patrick, Fowles, & Krueger, 2009). In addition, the triarchic model of psychopathy has been conceptualized using the FFM in hopes to elicit the distinction between normal personality and psychopathy. Moreover, certain psychopathic (i.e., disinhibition and meanness) and personality traits (i.e., Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness) are related to substance misuse. This is of particular relevance to the present study, especially in lieu of the fact that substance use on college campuses is prevalent, and on the rise. College students could engage in substance use due to sensation-seeking tendencies, or personality characteristics associated with disinhibition (Magid, MacLean, & Colder, 2007; Patrick et al., 2009). For example, the combination of certain psychopathic traits (i.e., elevated disinhibition and meanness) may predict more adverse substance use consequences (Patrick et al., 2009), but this link has not received much attention in non-clinical or non-incarcerated samples, thus it warrants further study. Furthermore, the extent to which pathological narcissism and psychopathy represent different constructs has been widely debated. Specifically, psychopathy and narcissism share several behavioral indicators and are often viewed on the same personality continuum, but at different points of severity (Fossati, Pincus, Borroni, Munteanu, & Maffei, 2014). These similarities include characteristics of grandiosity, lack of empathy, callousness, and interpersonal relationship difficulties. It has been suggested, however, that psychopathy is more problematic than narcissism due to higher antagonism, impulsivity, and moral disengagement (Fossati et al.,2014). Given the limitations of the current literature, the call for studies that examine associations between dimensional traits and clinical issues (e.g., substance abuse), and the potential for psychopathy contributing to maladjustment in college students, the associations among psychopathy, personality traits, and substance use needs to be further evaluated.Participants consisted of 127 undergraduate students from Western Carolina University.Participants completed a series of self-report measures examining psychopathy, normal personality, narcissism, substance use, and substance use consequences. In addition, participants completed an anti-saccade task as a physiological measure of disinhibition. Results indicated, as expected, psychopathy can be explained in terms of the five-factor model of personality, especially in terms of Agreeableness and Conscientiousness. Moreover, results support previous findings that psychopathy and narcissism are highly interrelated; however, psychopathy demonstrates more characteristics related to disinhibition. Psychopathy and specific normal personality traits (i.e., Extraversion, Conscientiousness, and Agreeableness) predict negative substance use consequences. Lastly, the anti-saccade task was not an accurate measure of disinhibition and impulsivity. Implications and limitations will be discussed.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2016
disinhibition, five-factor model, narcissism, psychopathy, substance use
Psychology, Pathological
College students -- Substance use

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