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Impulsive-aggression and psychopathic tendencies in female undergraduates

Crawley, Tess 2004 , 'Impulsive-aggression and psychopathic tendencies in female undergraduates', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Impulsive-aggression was investigated in a female university sample. A base rate
analysis of impulsive-aggression in male (n=220) and female (n=686) university
students at the University of Tasmania was conducted. As expected, males showed
higher levels of impulsivity and aggression than females, and females were more
empathic than males. Results from a background questionnaire indicated that some
students reported psychosocial factors consistent with characteristic impulsive-aggression.
Four groups of female students (impulsive-aggressive, n=23; aggressive,
n=24; impulsive, n=33; and control, n=119) were then selected on the basis of
impulsivity scores and aggression scores. In comparison to other women the
impulsive-aggressive group was more physically aggressive and had a greater
tendency to fight or argue. They were also more likely to report a drug problem, were
more sexually active, and were more likely to have faced charges as a result of
antisocial activity. They also reported a large number of suicide risk factors with
fewer protective social supports in place. Surprisingly, the impulsive-aggressive
group did not differ from other groups on empathy scores and had lower lie scores
than the other three groups. The profile of impulsive-aggressive women was similar to
the diagnostic criteria for antisocial personality disorder. Subsequent investigation of
psychopathic traits was conducted. Women in the impulsive-aggressive (n=11),
aggressive (n=9), impulsive (n=7), and control (n=11) groups were individually
interviewed following the semi-structured interview format from the PCL:SV (Hart,
Cox, & Hare, 1995) and subsequently rated using the P-Scan (Hare & Herve, 1999).
The impulsive-aggressive group (M=6.33, SD=3.48) scored significantly higher than
all other groups (Ms<1.70, SDs<1.90) on total P-Scan psychopathy ratings and on the
three facets of the P-Scan. Attentional bias was investigated with the above interviewees completing a modified Stroop task, a dot probe (words) task, and a dot
probe (faces) task. No significant group differences were found for reaction times to
unpleasant (aggressive) or pleasant (neutral/happy) stimuli on the Stroop task or on
either of the dot probe tasks. However, impulsive-aggressive women tended to show
an attentional bias towards impulsive-aggressive words (e.g., 'rape') on the dot probe
(words) task, whereas aggressive women showed an attentional bias away from
impulsive-aggressive words. This was evident at the longer 1500ms stimulus duration
but not at the shorter duration (100ms). In general it was shown that impulsive-aggressive
women were distinct from their aggressive (and other) peers. It was
concluded that impulsive-aggressive women have characteristics in common with
sub-clinical psychopathy, as evidenced by their P-Scan scores, antisocial behaviours,
and responses to affective stimuli. Results show support for a dimensional diagnostic
approach to this disorder. Further research of the relationship between impulsive-aggression
and sub-clinical psychopathic tendencies is warranted.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Crawley, Tess
Keywords: Impulsive personality, Aggressiveness in youth, Women college students, Students
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2004 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 2004. Includes bibliographical references

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