Date of Award

8-2010

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

Abstract

Youth with psychopathic characteristics tend to engage in severe and varied problem behaviors with an increased chance of recidivism (Andershed, Gustafson, Kerr, & Stattin, 2002; Gretton, Hare, & Catchpole, 2004; Salekin, 2008). Previous research indicates that youth with psychopathy-linked personality traits are more likely to have an increased focus on achieving reward despite the increasing presence of punishment (O'Brien & Frick, 1996). This study investigated individual perceptions of consequences (e.g., reward and punishment) as a mediator of the relation between psychopathy-linked personality traits and problem behaviors (i.e., delinquency, aggression) in a sample of 157 adolescents ages 16-19. Findings suggest that perceived rewards for problem behaviors played a mediational role in the relation between psychopathy-linked personality traits and such behaviors. However, perception of punishment was not related to participation in problem behaviors. Additionally, anxiety and delinquent peer affiliations had a moderating effect on the relation between psychopathy-linked traits and perception of rewards. The implications of the present findings for intervention are discussed.

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