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Cognition and psychopathy: identifying negative and positive schemas in general and forensic samples

Fiona Wilks-Riley & Jane L. Ireland

Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology; Available online: 14 Jun 2012.



The current study examines positive and negative cognitive schemas and their association with psychopathy. Four studies are presented. Methods include interview, file review and cross-sectional surveys. Samples were acquired from the general population, secure psychiatric settings and prisons, resulting in 78 male forensic psychiatric patients, 268 male prisoners and 304 male students. Contrary to hypotheses, increased positive schema predicted increased psychopathy, as did negative schema. Similarities between populations were found, such as a shared schema structure evidenced via confirmatory factor analysis. The importance of accounting for positive schema is emphasised when formulating psychopathy, encouraging a move away from viewing it as solely related to negative characteristics. A refined means of measuring schemas across populations is presented. Increased research into the specific association between psychopathy and cognition is recommended.





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