Psychopathy: Relations with Three Conceptions of Intelligence

Ashley L. Watts, Randall T. Salekin, Natalie Harrison, Abby Clark, Irwin D. Waldman, Michael J. Vitacco, Scott O. Lilienfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Psychopathy is often associated with heightened intelligence in the eyes of clinicians and laypersons despite mixed research support for this possibility. We adopted a fine-grained approach to studying the relations among psychopathy and multiple indices of intelligence, including both cognitively based intelligence (CBI) and emotional intelligence (EI), in a large sample of undergraduates (N = 1,257, 70% female, 82% Caucasian). We found no clear support for marked associations between psychopathy and CB I measures, with the magnitudes of these relations being small. With the exception of the dimensions of Fearless Dominance (FD) and Coldheartedness (C), psychopathy dimensions were negatively associated with (EI). In contrast, we found some support for the hypothesis that intelligence served as a protective factor against antisocial behavior among individuals with high levels of psychopathy. On balance, our findings show weak relations between psychopathy and intelligence, suggesting that the link between them may be less robust than theoretical models portray, at least among undergraduates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-279
Number of pages11
JournalPersonality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment
Volume7
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016

Keywords

  • antisocial behavior
  • emotional intelligence
  • intelligence
  • personality
  • psychopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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    Watts, A. L., Salekin, R. T., Harrison, N., Clark, A., Waldman, I. D., Vitacco, M. J., & Lilienfeld, S. O. (2016). Psychopathy: Relations with Three Conceptions of Intelligence. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 7(3), 269-279. https://doi.org/10.1037/per0000183