The psychopathic individual: A lack of responsiveness to distress cues?

Robert James, Richard Blair, Lawrence Jones, Fiona Clark, Margaret Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

269 Scopus citations


In this study, we investigated the psychophysiological responsiveness of psychopathic individuals to distress cues and to threatening and neutral stimuli. Eighteen psychopathic individuals and 18 incarcerated control individuals, identified using the Revised Psychopathy Checklist (Hare, 1991, The Hare Pscyhopathy Checklist-Revised, Toronto: MultiHealth Systems), were shown slides of these three types of stimuli, and their electrodermal responses were recorded. The psychopathic individuals showed (relative to the controls) reduced electrodermal responses to the distress cues. In contrast, the two groups did not differ in their electrodermal responses to the threatening stimuli and to the neutral stimuli. The results are interpreted within the Violence Inhibition Mechanism model (Blair, 1995, Cognition, 57, 1-29) of the psychopathic individual.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)192-198
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Antisocial personality
  • Autonomic response
  • Emotion
  • Empathy
  • Psychopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


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