They know the words, but not the music: Affective and semantic priming in individuals with psychopathy

K. S. Blair, R. A. Richell, D. G.V. Mitchell, A. Leonard, J. Morton, R. J.R. Blair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Previous work has indicated dysfunctional affect-language interactions in individuals with psychopathy through use of the lexical decision task. However, it has been uncertain as to whether these deficits actually reflect impaired affect-language interactions or a more fundamental deficit in general semantic processing. In this study, we examined affective priming and semantic priming (dependent measures were reaction times and error rates) in individuals with psychopathy and comparison individuals, classified according to the psychopathy checklist revised (PCL-R) [Hare, R.D., 1991. The Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised. Multi-Health Systems, Toronto, Ont.]. Individuals with psychopathy showed significantly less affective priming relative to comparison individuals. In contrast, the two groups showed comparable levels of semantic priming. The results are discussed with reference to current models of psychopathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114-123
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Affective priming
  • Psychopathy
  • Semantic priming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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