No clear evidence for a positive association between the interpersonal-affective aspects of psychopathy and executive functioning

Psychiatry Research 2010:1265-1274 (2013)
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Common psychopathy rating instrument sdistinguish between an interpersonal-affective and an antisocial dimension.The suggestion that the interpersonal-affective dimension,often considered to be the core feature of psychopathy,is positively associated with executive functioning is occasionally made in the literature, without reporting objective empirical data. The primary aim of thep resent paper was to search for empirical studies reporting relevant data, focussing on four aspects of 'cold' executive functioning: inhibition, attentional shifting, working memory, and planning. Eleven published articles wereidentified, reporting data of 721 individuals from incarcerated and non-incarcerated,male and female,and adult and non-adult samples. Using a heterogeneous set of tests and dependent measures across studies, the inhibition and attentional shifting components were assessed in eight and five studies, respectively; the working memory and planning components each in two studies. A small majority of the studies found positive associations with the different executive functions, although the associations were mostly non-significant. Given the scarcity of studies and the use of heterogeneous populations,tests and statistical analyses, no robust conclusions can be drawn at this stage. Therefore,caution is needed when claiming a positive association between the interpersonal-affective features of psychopathy and executive functioning. Clearly more research is needed to further validate and specify the suggested association.
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