The Role of Emotional Attention Regulation in High Psychopathy Incarcerated Males

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This study will examine the role of emotional attention regulation in men (N = 60) currently incarcerated in a Midwestern prison. Modern conceptualizations define psychopathy as a multifaceted and dimensional construct that includes atypical experience of affect, interpersonal problems, and remarkable social deviance. Attentional differences and deficient emotional experience have been shown to predict psychopathy and other outcomes related to the construct. However, attentional and emotional functioning in individuals high in psychopathy is complex and results have been shown to vary across discrete emotion states and experimental paradigms. The negative preception hypothesis (Kosson et al., 2018) suggests that these differences may be the result of regulation of attention away from emotional experience as opposed to a general diminished emotional responsiveness, resulting in poor establishment of affect - consequence relationships and an overall impoverished emotional life. The current study examines emotional attention regulation ability as a potentially relevant mechanism in psychopathy and the negative preception hypothesis. Specifically, deficits in tuning into nonverbal cues (TINC) and tuning out nonverbal cues (TONC) are expected to predict scores on an interview-based measure of psychopathy (PCL:SV). This is explained through the framework of the process model of emotion regulation (Gross, 2015; Ford & Gross, 2018) in which an inability to modulate attention toward emotional experience may result in a disturbance in the identification and monitoring stages of emotion regulation while a failure to direct attention away from emotional experience may result in distracting or intrusive emotional experience that facilitates urgent and disinhibited behavior.

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Jeffrey S. Simons

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