Title page for ETD etd-05132011-144038

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Tanaka, Akiho
Author's Email Address atanaka@vt.edu
URN etd-05132011-144038
Title Psychopathy and Incapacity to Love: Role of Physiological Arousal
Degree PhD
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Scarpa-Friedman, Angela Committee Chair
Harrison, David W. Committee Member
Kim-Spoon, Jungmeen Committee Member
White, Bradley A. Committee Member
  • psychopathy
  • romantic love
  • physiological arousal
Date of Defense 2011-05-10
Availability restricted
Psychopathy is a rare and unique disorder, primarily associated with an emotional deficiency and an inclination towards violent antisocial behavior. Among the various symptoms, the affective experience of the incapacity for love has received little empirical attention, despite having been established as one of Cleckley’s 16 classic characteristics. Moreover, the role of physiological responding in their romantic experiences has yet to be examined. The proposed study examined physiological reactivity (i.e., heart rate, HR; skin conductance, SC) as a mediator and moderator in the relationship between psychopathic features and romantic experiences (i.e., passionate love, companionate love, Ludus love, relationship satisfaction, relationship history) in college men. As hypothesized, physiological reactivity mediated and moderated the relationship between psychopathic features and romantic experiences. Specifically, low physiological arousal for the partner partially mediated the relationship between psychopathic features and passionate love. Also, it was found that the interaction between low physiological arousal for the significant other and high physiological arousal for the opposite-sex friend moderates the relationship between psychopathic features and deficient romantic experiences. By gaining a better understanding of the impact on their romantic experiences, this study is intended to contribute to improved identification and assessment of psychopathic men.
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