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
- Perlstein, S., Wagner, N.J., Domínguez-Álvarez, B., Gómez-Fraguela, J.A., Romero, E., Lopez-Romero, L., & Waller, R.^ (2022). Psychometric properties, factor structure, and construct validity of the Sensitivity to Threat and Affiliative Reward Scale (STARS) in children and adults. Assessment, in press
- Plate, R.C., Zhao, S., Katz, C., Graber, E., Daley, G., Corbett, N., All, K., Neumann, C.S., & Waller, R.^ (2022). Are you laughing with me or at me? Psychopathic traits and the ability to distinguish between affiliation and dominance laughter cues. Journal of Personality, 90, 631–644
- Domínguez-Álvarez, B., Romero, E., López-Romero, L., Isdahl-Troye, A., Wagner, N., & Waller, R. (2021). A Cross-Sectional and longitudinal test of the Sensitivity to Threat and Affiliative Reward (STAR) model of callous-unemotional traits among Spanish
- *Waller, R., *Wagner, N.J., Flom, M., Ganiban, J., & Saudino, K.J. (2021). Fearlessness and low social affiliation as unique developmental precursors of callous-unemotional behaviors in preschoolers. Psychological Medicine, 51, 777-785 *authors contributed equally to this manuscript