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The role of psychopathy factors in reactive aggression within a sample of prisoners

Agata Debowska (Department of Psychology, University of Chester, Chester, UK)
Emek Yuce Zeyrek Rios (International Research Centre for Investigative Psychology, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK)

Journal of Criminal Psychology

ISSN: 2009-3829

Article publication date: 2 February 2015




The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of four psychopathy factors (Interpersonal Manipulation (IPM), Callous Affect (CA), Erratic Lifestyle (ELS), and Antisocial Behaviour (ASB)) and the length of incarceration in reactive aggression. The predictive effect of dissatisfaction with peer relations, childhood experiences of violence, and criminal friends on reactive forms of aggressive acts is also explored.


In total, 129 (n=129) male prisoners incarcerated in Stargard Szczecinski Prison were recruited for the study. Cross-sectional design using self-report questionnaire of retrospective and prospective nature was utilised.


Hierarchical multiple regression analysis revealed that only one psychopathy facet, IPM, forms a significant association with reactive aggression. Another accurate correlate of reactive aggression was the length of incarceration.


The results of the present study indicate that the commonly suggested two-factor models of psychopathy may be misguided. Future studies examining the effect of psychopathy facets on aggression should consider IPM and CA as separate dimensions. Additionally, this study is the first to demonstrate that reactive aggression may be exacerbated during incarceration.



Debowska, A. and Zeyrek Rios, E.Y. (2015), "The role of psychopathy factors in reactive aggression within a sample of prisoners", Journal of Criminal Psychology, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 25-33.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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