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Emotional reactivity and the association between psychopathy-linked narcissism and aggression in detained adolescent boys.

Centifanti (née Muñoz), L.C. and Kimonis, E.R. and Frick, P.J. and Aucoin, K.J. (2013) 'Emotional reactivity and the association between psychopathy-linked narcissism and aggression in detained adolescent boys.', Development and psychopathology., 25 (2). pp. 473-485.


Different patterns of emotional reactivity characterize proactive and reactive functions of aggressive behavior, and theory also suggests a link of both types with narcissism. How people with narcissistic traits respond emotionally to competitive scenarios could influence their aggressiveness. Participants were 85 adolescent boys from a detention center. Several indices of emotional functioning were assessed, including attentional bias to negative emotional stimuli and psychophysiological responding. In addition, we included self-report and laboratory measures of aggression and measures of psychopathy-linked narcissism, callous–unemotional traits, and impulsivity. Psychopathy-linked narcissism was uniquely related to unprovoked aggression (i.e., proactive aggression) and to heightened attention to pictures depicting others’ distress. Compared with those scoring low on narcissism, those high on narcissism, who were the least physiologically reactive group, evinced greater proactive aggression, whereas those showing a pattern of coactivation (i.e., sympathetic and parasympathetic autonomic reactivity) evinced greater reactive aggression. Results are consistent with descriptions of narcissistic individuals as being hypervigilant to negative cues and exhibiting poor emotion regulation. These characteristics may lead to aggressive and violent behavior aimed at maintaining dominance over others.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:© Copyright Cambridge University Press 2013. This paper has been published in a revised form subsequent to editorial input by Cambridge University Press in 'Development and psychopathology' (25:2 (2013) 473-485)
Record Created:28 Nov 2011 11:35
Last Modified:27 Aug 2013 12:24

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