The Association Between Psychopathic Personality Traits and Executive Functions
O'Connell, Debra Christiane
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The association between psychopathic personality traits and performance on measures of executive functions (EF) has been well-studied; however, the results across previous research findings have been inconsistent. The current study was the first to use the triarchic model of psychopathy with lab-based measures of EF to investigate this association in both college men and women. The domains of EF assessed were updating, shifting, and inhibition. The principal components analysis of the measures of EF was ambiguous and supported either a two or three component structure. Psychopathic personality traits were not associated with any measures of EF. Rather, an estimate of overall intellectual functioning was significantly, negatively correlated with participant performance on four out of six measures of EF. The results of the present study support the assertion that psychopathic personality traits are not associated with performance on measures of EF. Methodological limitations of the study that may have affected the results include measurement error and low internal consistency among some of the EF tasks.