Previous research has indicated that low resting heart rate (RHR), measured at age 18, predicts later psychopathy, and that high RHR acts as a protective factor in nullifying the influence of several psychosocial risk factors in predicting later antisocial and criminal outcomes. This paper aims to investigate high RHR as a protective factor against age 8–10 psychosocial risk factors in predicting psychopathy factors at age 48 (measured by the PCL:SV).
Data collected in the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development are analyzed. This is a prospective longitudinal study of 411 London males from age 8 to age 61.
This paper first reports the age 8–10 psychosocial risk factors that predict the interpersonal/affective Factor 1 and the lifestyle/antisocial Factor 2. Then interaction effects with high RHR are studied. The results indicate that high RHR acts as a protective factor against a convicted father and a depressed mother in predicting both psychopathy factors. It also protected against harsh discipline, large family size, low verbal IQ, high hyperactivity, poor parental supervision and a high delinquency-rate school in predicting one of these psychopathy factors, and against a convicted mother in a sensitivity analysis.
This is the first ever longitudinal study showing that high RHR acts as a protective factor in the prediction of psychopathy. The replicated results with different antisocial outcomes show that more research is warranted on the protective effects of high RHR.
For funding the CSDD, we are very grateful to the Home Office, the Department of Health, the Department of Education, the Rayne Foundation, the Barrow Cadbury Trust, and the Smith-Richardson Foundation. For carrying out criminal record searches, we are very grateful to Gwen Gundry in the 1960s and 1970s, Lynda Morley in the 1980s, Sandra Lambert in the 1990s, Debbie Wilson in the 2000s, Owen Thomas in 2011–12 and Lisa Robinson in 2017.
Farrington, D.P. and Bergstrøm, H. (2021), "High resting heart rate protects against childhood risk factors in predicting adult psychopathy", Journal of Criminal Psychology, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 141-156. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCP-01-2021-0003
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