Title

Psychopathic Traits and Politics: Examining Affiliation, Support of Political Issues, and the Role of Empathy

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-1-2018

Department

Psychology

Abstract

The relation of psychopathy to morality has been extensively examined, yet few studies have considered relations to political attitudes, which involve moral decision-making. We examined how psychopathic traits relate to political affiliation and opinions on political issues, using the triarchic conceptualization of psychopathy (Patrick, Fowles, & Krueger, 2009) and testing empathy components as mediators. Interpersonal-affective (Boldness and Meanness) traits were higher in Republicans compared to Democrats. Moreover, Boldness was associated with conservative opinions on economic issues, while Meanness evinced stronger relations to conservative opinions on social issues. Triarchic domains also evidenced unique associations to issues concerning minorities or discrimination. Further, empathy mediated relations between Meanness and decreased support for certain issues (e.g., affirmative action). Overall, psychopathy, particularly the interpersonal-affective traits, appear pertinent to political attitudes, while empathy deficits may statistically account for unique effects of Meanness.

Publication Title

Personality and Individual Differences

Volume

131

First Page

142

Last Page

148

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