Psychopathy, Etiology of

Psychopathy is a clinical condition marked by interpersonal-affective characteristics (charm, manipulativeness, callous-exploitativeness) along with impulsive-irresponsible tendencies and persistent antisocial behavior. According to the triarchic model of psychopathy, the interpersonal-affective features are expressions of more basic dispositions termed boldness and meanness, whereas the impulsive-irresponsible tendencies reflect general proneness toward externalizing problems (disinhibition). Persistent engagement in antisocial activities is seen to arise from these basic dispositional tendencies operating jointly.

This entry covers what is known about causal influences contributing to psychopathy, using the triarchic model as a reference point. A synopsis of historical perspectives on etiology and evolutionary models is first provided, followed by a discussion of the genetic and environmental bases of psychopathy, the biological mechanisms contributing to it, and the developmental precursors of adult psychopathy.

Historical ...

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