The relationship between triarchic factors of psychopathy and substance use, internalizing psychopathology, and suicidality
The modern conception of psychopathy was proposed in the early twentieth century as superficial charm concealing interpersonal deficits and behavioral deviance. Two-factor models are often used to characterize psychopathy, but they are limited in recognizing different characteristics’ relations to each other. This causes an incomplete understanding of how psychopathy relates to such psychopathological outcomes as internalizing symptoms, suicidality, and substance use. The more recent triarchic model could help explain these relationships by instead using three factors: boldness, meanness, and disinhibition (Patrick, Fowles, & Krueger, 2009). In this study, we investigate the relationship between boldness and disinhibition factors and psychopathological outcomes, such as substance use and suicidality, and the possible moderating role of meanness in these relationships. Measures of triarchic psychopathy, substance use, and internalizing symptoms were administered to 218 undergraduate students in Florida. Analysis yielded significant positive correlations between disinhibition and internalizing symptoms, suicidality, and substance use and between meanness and these three outcome variables. Analysis also yielded significant negative correlations between boldness and these three outcome variables. A moderation model showed a significant effect of meanness on the relationship between boldness and suicidality: increased meanness intensified the protective effects of boldness against suicidality. These results indicate that differences in past studies on the relationship between triarchic psychopathy and certain psychopathologies may be due to differing levels of boldness and meanness in participants. More research is necessary to confirm this conclusion, but this study represents an important step in clarifying the complexities of psychopathological outcomes of psychopathy.
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