Wednesday, May 16, 2018

It could be argued that psychopathic personality traits may be adaptive in the military; interpersonal affective deficits seen in psychopathy are protective against the development of PTSD symptoms in a sample of combat-exposed soldiers

Psychopathic Personality Traits in the Military: An Examination of the Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scales in a Novel Sample. Joye C. Anestis et al. Assessment,  https://doi.org/10.1177/1073191117719511

Abstract: The Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scale is a short, self-report measure initially developed to assess psychopathic traits in noninstitutionalized samples. The present study aimed to explore factor structure and convergent and discriminant validity of the Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scale in a large U.S. military sample (90.7% Army National Guard). Factor analytic data, regression, and correlational analyses point to the superiority of Brinkley, Diamond, Magaletta, and Heigel’s three-factor model in this sample. Implications for theory and the study of psychopathic personality traits in a military sample are discussed.

Keywords: psychopathy, assessment, military, self-report, Levenson

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[...] an important next step for this line of research is to examine how psychopathic personality traits help and/or hurt service members in discharging their duty. On the one hand, it could be argued that psychopathic personality traits may be adaptive in the military. For example, National Guard and Reserve members are more likely than other service members to develop problems during and after deployment (Hotopf et al., 2006; Iversen et al., 2009; Milliken, Auchterlonie, & Hoge, 2007), yet recent research has noted that the interpersonal.affective deficits seen in psychopathy are protective against the development of PTSD symptoms in a sample of combat-exposed Army National Guard members (J. C. Anestis, Harrop, Anestis, & Green, 2017). Additionally, entering military service often requires a period of physical separation from home.this transition might be easier for individuals with psychopathic traits who have less intense connections to others. Military culture emphasizes traits such as authoritarianism, leadership, and secrecy (Hall, 2011; Strom et al., 2012), areas of potential strength for someone possessing psychopathic personality traits. Military service may even be particularly important for individuals with psychopathic traits who engaged in criminal activity prior to enlistment. Prior research points to a negative relationship between military service and criminal activity, and this negative relationship has been shown to be stronger for those who engaged in criminal activity prior to enlistment than those who did not (e.g., Maruna & Roy, 2007). Thus, military service may serve as a .turning point. for these at-risk adolescents (Teachman & Tedrow, 2016). The hypothesized adaptive function of psychopathic personality traits in the military may also be related to the literature on resilience, as personality factors related to psychopathy have also been found to be related to postdeployment psychological resiliency (e.g., agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability; Lee, Sudom, & Zamorski, 2013). At the same time, psychopathic personality traits may be detrimental to successful military service. Military culture is collectivist in nature and places emphasis on values such as loyalty, teamwork, obedience, and discipline (Strom et al., 2012). Individuals with psychopathic traits may struggle in this context and be at higher risk for discipline problems and discharge (e.g., Fiedler, Oltmanns, & Turkheimer, 2004). Future research should explore the likely multifaceted function of these personality traits as they relate to military service, particularly the likelihood that the relationship is curvilinear (e.g., certain psychopathic personality traits may be adaptive or related to resilience up to a certain level at which point they become maladaptive). Furthermore, from the perspective of the Two-Process (Patrick & Bernat, 2009) or Dual Pathway (Fowles & Dindo, 2009) models of psychopathy, the highly structured and intense doctrination of military training may moderate expression of the impulsive deficits and externalizing tendencies of psychopathy, and commitment to a group and a code of honor may mitigate expression of the interpersonal.affective deficits, allowing members of the military expressing psychopathy-related traits to function better than forensic/offender samples demonstrating comparable mean trait expression.