Psychophysiological Correlates of Psychopathic Disorders

Rebecca J. Houston, Matthew S. Stanford

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Traditionally, psychopathy has been hypothesized to reflect two correlated facets: interpersonal and affective features; and social deviance. This chapter reviews psychophysiological research pertaining to three factors: arrogant and deceitful interpersonal style (narcissism); deficient affective experience (callous/unemotional); and impulsive and irresponsible behavioral style (impulsivity). It focuses on electrocortical and autonomic psychophysiological techniques used in relation to the three factors. A measure of brain activity often used in the assessment of impulsivity and sensation seeking is the event related potential (ERP). The ERP is generated by a response to a specific stimulus and averaged over a number of trials. A deficit in emotional processing has long been considered a core characteristic of psychopathic disorders. Indeed, psychopathic individuals do show abnormal functioning in limbic structures that have been associated with emotional processing. Psychophysiologically psychopathic individuals have been consistently shown to be electrodermally hyporeactive to aversive stimuli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Wiley International Handbook on Psychopathic Disorders and the Law, 2nd Edition
Subtitle of host publicationDiagnosis and Treatment: Volume I and II
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9781119159322
ISBN (Print)9781119159292
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Deficient affective experience
  • Event related potential
  • Impulsivity
  • Narcissism
  • Psychopathic disorders
  • Psychophysiological research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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