Facing the Implications: Dangerous World Beliefs Differentially Predict Men and Women's Aversion to Facially Communicated Psychopathy

Mitch Brown, University of Southern Mississippi
Donald F. Sacco, University of Southern Mississippi
Kathleen P. Lolley, University of Southern Mississippi
Danielle Block, University of Southern Mississippi


Individuals with heightened self-protection motives demonstrate considerable perceptual acuity toward facial features connoting others' cooperative intentions, an adaptive response to mitigate vulnerability to exploitation. This sensitivity may necessarily also produce an aversion to individuals exhibiting facial features implicating them as interpersonal threats. Previous research indicates humans possess considerable accuracy at identifying psychopathy through facial features, which may suggest that individuals with heightened self-protection concerns may be. particularly averse to facially communicated psychopathy. In the current study, participants reported interaction partner preferences among face pairs that were manipulated to communicate high and low levels of psychopathy. Participants then reported their dispositional belief in a dangerous world. Women with dispositionally higher dangerous world beliefs reported a stronger aversion to facially communicated high-psychopathy. Conversely, men higher in dangerous world beliefs reported reduced aversion to high psychopathy targets. Men's aversion down-regulation may be indicative of tolerance for antisocial conspecifics to facilitate action against coalitional threat. Results indicate that self-protection motives differentially predict men and women's relative aversion to psychopathy in adaptive ways. (C) 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.