The role of psychopathic traits in explaining associations between childhood traumatic experiences and aggression

Hedwig Eisenbarth*, Carlo Garofalo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

The present study reports on a preregistered investigation of the potential mediating role of the triarchic psychopathy components Boldness, Meanness, and Disinhibition for associations between childhood traumatic experiences (CTE) and aggression. Three nonclinical samples (total N = 1,729; 1,176 women, 68.02%) completed self-report instruments of CTE, triarchic psychopathy traits, reactive and proactive aggression (Samples 1 and 2), and general aggression (Sample 3). Cross-sectional path analyses revealed that both Meanness and Disinhibition consistently mediated associations between CTE and aggression. These indirect effects were consistent across gender, even though the direct effect of Meanness on proactive aggression was stronger in men than in women (Samples 1 and 2). Finally, Boldness had weak negative associations with childhood traumatic experiences in all three samples, but no direct association with aggression. Taken together, these correlational findings suggest potential developmental mechanisms linking early traumatic experiences to adult aggression through elevated levels of psychopathic traits.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Personality Disorders
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021

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