We recently investigated low affiliation in the context of psychopathy–a disorder characterized by affective and interpersonal deficits, deviant lifestyle, and antisocial behaviors. Much research has been dedicated to understanding the impairments in reinforcement learning, fear conditioning, and sensitivity to threat, distress, or fear in others, which are thought to underpin psychopathic traits. However, fewer studies had examined deficits in affiliative processes, which could provide insight into mechanisms giving rise to the impairments in social bonding, closeness with others, and cooperation that also characterize individuals high on psychopathy. Thus, in this recent study, we examined whether reduced sensitivity to affiliation was related to psychopathic traits in adults from the community. Results indicated that lower sensitivity to affiliation was related to higher total psychopathy scores. Our findings provide support for the existence of important socio-affiliative and motivational deficits that may underpin the affective features of psychopathy and speak to the potential to target such mechanisms in interventions and treatments to reduce psychopathic traits.

Relevant peer-reviewed publications