Gender differences in the association between psychopathic personality traits and cortisol response to induced stress.

Abstract

Blunted stress reactivity has been implicated in the development of psychopathic personality traits. Cortisol is a biological marker of stress reactivity that has received little attention in prior psychopathy studies. The current investigation proposed that inhibition of cortisol response to induced stress is a reliable marker for psychopathic personality traits. An extreme groups methodology was used to recruit a mixed-gender sample of 84 college students characterized by high and low scores on the Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scale. Participants provided saliva samples prior to and after a well-established stress induction procedure (i.e., Trier Social Stress Test). These samples were assessed for cortisol (microg/dL) using an enzyme immunoassay procedure. Consistent with prediction, male participants high in psychopathic personality traits lacked stress induced increases in cortisol displayed by males low in psychopathic personality traits. This effect was not present in female participants. These findings suggest that cortisol production is a gender-specific marker for psychopathic personality traits.

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@article{OLeary2007GenderDI, title={Gender differences in the association between psychopathic personality traits and cortisol response to induced stress.}, author={Megan M O'Leary and Bryan R. Loney and Lisa A. Eckel}, journal={Psychoneuroendocrinology}, year={2007}, volume={32 2}, pages={183-91} }