Date of Award


Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Academic Program

Psychology BS



First Advisor

Eric Dahlen, Ph.D.

Advisor Department



Psychopathy is a robust predictor of aggressive behavior and psychopathic personality traits have been shown to predict relational aggression in non-clinical samples of college students. Given the manner in which emotional intelligence appears to be useful in navigating complex social interactions, some have suggested that it may be involved in certain forms of deceitful or manipulative behavior, including those that may be part of relational aggression. The current project evaluated the role of psychopathic personality traits and emotional intelligence in the prediction of relational aggression among college students. In addition to examining the direct relationship of these variables to relational aggression, we sought to determine if emotional intelligence would moderate the relationship between psychopathic traits and relational aggression (i.e., would the strength of the relationship between psychopathic traits differ depending on participants’ levels of emotional intelligence?). Archival data (N = 274) were analyzed using a hierarchical multiple regression. Psychopathic personality traits were positively correlated with relational aggression, emotional intelligence was inversely related to relational aggression, and emotional intelligence moderated the relationship of psychopathic traits to relational aggression. Contrary to what was expected, emotional intelligence weakened this relationship (i.e., the positive relationship between psychopathic traits and relational aggression was somewhat weaker for students with higher levels of emotional intelligence).