STUDY ALERT: Who cares when nobody is watching? Psychopathic traits and empathy in prosocial behaviors + BONUS

October 15, 2013 in Study Alerts

Who cares when nobody is watching? Psychopathic traits and empathy in prosocial behaviors 

Bradley A. White

Prosocial behaviors are voluntary acts intended to benefit others. Lack of empathy is a core feature of psychopathy, a constellation of personality traits that includes callousness, egocentricity, and antisociality. While psychopathy is often associated with antisocial behavior, its relation to prosociality may depend upon the class of prosocial behavior and facet of psychopathy considered. Public prosocial behavior may be more motivated by extrinsic social rewards than anonymous prosociality, which may be more motivated by empathy and altruistic motives. It was hypothesized that primary psychopathy, especially affective callousness, would be positively and uniquely associated with public prosociality, and inversely associated with anonymous and altruistic prosociality, and that these associations would be mediated by empathy. In contrast, secondary psychopathy was expected to be weakly and inversely associated with all three types of prosocial behavior and with empathy. In an undergraduate student sample (n = 539), unique and interaction effects were tested in hierarchical regression. Predictions were supported for pri- mary psychopathy. Gender did not moderate associations. Theoretical and practical implications are considered.

Read article


When are grandiose and vulnerable narcissists least helpful? 

Daniel G. Lannin, Max Guyll, Zlatan Krizan, Stephanie Madon, Marilyn Cornish 

Grandiosity and vulnerability are distinct dimensions of narcissism, but little research has examined their differences regarding prosocial behavior. This investigation is the first to test the hypotheses that gran- diose narcissism predicts withholding help under high social pressure, whereas vulnerable narcissism predicts withholding help under low social pressure. Undergraduate participants (N = 220, Mage = 19.5, 142 women) were partnered with a confederate for the supposed purpose of a mock counseling session. The confederate ruined the session by demonstrating inconsiderate behavior, after which the participant encountered two opportunities to help the confederate: one presented under high social pressure to help, the other presented under low social pressure to help. Measures also assessed participants’ prosocial emotions, including empathy for and forgiveness of the confederate. Consistent with hypotheses, grandi- ose narcissism predicted less helping under high social pressure, whereas vulnerable narcissism predicted less helping under low social pressure, the latter relationship being mediated by reduced forgiveness. Vulnerable narcissism was also associated with less empathy and forgiveness. Grandiose and vulnerable narcissism differentially predicted helping behavior depending on the amount of social pressure to help. These results conform to theoretical distinctions between grandiosity and vulnerability regarding social dominance and internalization.

Read article

Romantic revenge and the Dark Triad: A model of impellance and inhibition 

Kyler R. Rasmussen, Susan D. Boon 

Based on I3 theory, the present study investigated a model in which the Dark Triad of personality traits (Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy) influence the rated likelihood of engaging in revenge against a romantic partner. We presented participants with a hypothetical act of infidelity, hypothesizing that the Dark Triad would relate positively to factors that could impel revenge (perceptions of revenge effectiveness and endorsement of goals related to power and justice) and negatively to factors that could inhibit revenge (perceptions of revenge costliness and endorsement of goals related to relationship main- tenance). Although the Dark Triad bore substantial indirect relationships to the rated likelihood of taking revenge through our postulated impelling factors, our hypothesized inhibiting factors did not substan- tially inhibit revenge. Implications of these findings are discussed.

Read article


Comments are closed.