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(Dis)honesty, psychopathy, and their relation to empathic concern

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Agnello, Connie L.
Lishner, David
MS, Psychology - Experimental
Sep 2012
Empathy; Truthfulness and falsehood; Antisocial personality disorders; Psychopaths
The goal of the present research was to examine the relation between honesty-humility and psychopathy, along with their relationship to empathic concern and helping behavior by manipulating perspective taking and measuring feelings of empathic concern for willingness to help a person in need. Measures of psychopathy were assessed using the SRP- III, and the PPI-R: SF. The personality dimension of honesty-humility was measured using a portion of the HEXACO-PI-R: SR (100 item version). Empathic concern was evaluated using the 6 items that Batson (2011) suggests best defines the construct. Based on previous work, it was hypothesized that (a) psychopathy and honestly-humility would be negatively associated with one another; (b) psychopathy would be negatively associated with empathic concern and helping; and (c) honestyhumility would be positively associated with empathic concern and helping. A perspective taking manipulation was used to further examine whether the associations of the traits of empathic concern and helping would be mitigated if the participants actively imagined the perspective of the person in need. Correlational analyses revealed a negative relation between honesty-humility and the psychopathy measures. When measures of psychopathy were decomposed into facet measures of fearless dominance, impulsive antisociality, coldheartedness, Factor 1 (primary psychopathy), and Factor 2 (secondary psychopathy), only individuals higher in Factor 1 reported significantly lower levels of empathic concern (after controlling for gender). Logistic regression analyses indicated that the interaction between coldheartedness and perspective taking significantly predicted helping behavior, such individuals higher in coldheartedness were less likely to help, but only when participants were asked to imagine the other?s perspective.
A Thesis Submitted In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science-Psychology Experimental
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