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Investigation of emotional contagion experienced by people with psychopathic personalities

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Item Summary

Title: Investigation of emotional contagion experienced by people with psychopathic personalities
Authors: Luckhurst, Cherie Lynn
Keywords: emotional contagion
psychopathic personality
facial affect
show 2 moreafferent response

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Issue Date: Dec 2014
Publisher: [Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2014]
Abstract: This dissertation project explored the experience of emotional contagion (EC) by individuals with psychopathic personalities. EC is a three-step process that allows an observer to experience the feelings of another and thereby converge emotionally. Recent findings regarding mirror neurons provide complementary evidence for primitive contagion and support the three-step model proposed by Hatfield and her colleagues. This study informs scientific understanding of the construct of emotional contagion, the abilities necessary for the EC response, and the circumstances under which EC occurs or fails. We know that contagion helps us to establish solidarity with the people in our own tribe as well as outsiders. Many scholars assert that psychopaths are unable to deeply or genuinely connect with others. They probably feel no sense of camaraderie and therefore no sense of acceptance. By studying their emotional contagion process, we might better understand their thinking, their feelings, their instincts, and ultimately their behavior. The study recruited participants using an online work platform hosted by Amazon called Mechanical Turk (MTurk). In addition to a psychopathy screener and a demographic profile, each participant completed two short surveys, one that measured propensity for emotional contagion and another that measured capacity for empathy. Resulting data showed that level of psychopathy correlated strongly and negatively with self-assessed capacities for both emotional contagion and empathy. Participants also experienced the three steps of emotional contagion: mimicry, afferent response, and emotional convergence. All participants, when instructed, successfully completed each step. However, participants with psychopathy scores higher than one standard deviation above the mean did not naturally experience emotional contagion; when watching film clips of people in emotional situations, high-psychopathy participants did not share the feelings of the people in the films at the same rate as their low-psychopathy peers. Possible explanations for these findings are discussed, and questions for further research are considered.
Description: Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2014.
Includes bibliographical references.
Rights: All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D. - Psychology

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