Social Learning and Environmental Determinants of Psychopathy

The construct of psychopathy is most frequently characterized as a lifelong, persistent condition associated with a lack of capacity for empathy, interpersonal/affective deficits, and engagement in social deviance/antisocial behaviors (e.g., aggression). There are several different environmental influences that can impact psychopathy. These include, but not limited to, childhood abuse and/or trauma, caregiver/parental bonding and resultant insecure attachment styles, and community and/or peer influences. Understanding factors that contribute to the development of psychopathy is of paramount importance to criminal justice and forensic psychology professionals due to its impact on criminal offending, forensic assessment, treatment amenability, and recidivism.

Environmental experiences may interact with biological factors in a process known as biological embedding. Clyde Hertzman and Tom Boyce (2010) define biological embedding as follows, “biological embedding occurs when ...

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