Psychopathy and empathy

Authored by: Michael J. Vitacco , David A. Lishner , Jeremy G. Gay , Amanda Trice

Routledge International Handbook of Psychopathy and Crime

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  August  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138085169
eBook ISBN: 9781315111476
Adobe ISBN:


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The current chapter explored associations between psychopathy and deficits in affective and cognitive empathy. As evidenced by studies reviewed herein, these deficits are clear in both adolescents and adults, notably with regard to psychopathic callousness. Evidence is found in both clinical and community samples, and the association may have real world consequences in the form of greater injury and instrumental violence. However, the field of empathy, as it relates to psychopathy, has been buttressed by experimental paradigms and imaging techniques allowing for advanced study of brain areas and neural connections associated with empathy and empathic behaviors. Future research will continue to bring forth new developments regarding this relationship, and eventually, empirically supported treatments may be developed to more effectively work with high psychopathy individuals to improve their empathy and reduce future problematic behaviors.

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