The Mediating Role of Emotion Dysregulation in Psychopathy and Borderline Traits
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Research over the last several decades has more clearly specified the nature of the relationships between emotion regulation and various pathologies. For example, a growing body of literature suggests that psychopathic traits show divergent associations with emotion dysregulation. Among men, interpersonal-affective features of psychopathy (e.g., social dominance and fearlessness) demonstrate a negative relationship with emotion dysregulation; whereas impulsive-antisocial characteristics show a positive association. However, such findings have yet to be demonstrated with women, whose presentation of core psychopathic traits is thought to differ from men. In particular, research has pointed to borderline personality traits, to which emotion dysregulation is a core feature, to be closely linked to psychopathic traits in women. The current study sought to extend the literature concerning the relationship between emotion dysregulation and psychopathy by examining this association as a function of gender. Additionally, the current study examined the mediating role emotion dysregulation plays in the relationship between borderline personality traits and psychopathy as it relates to the phenotypic expression of psychopathy across men and women. The results of the present study reveal the same divergent pattern of emotion dysregulation and psychopathic traits in women as in men. Additionally, emotion dysregulation served as a full mediator, as psychopathy traits were a not a significant predictor of borderline traits after controlling for emotion dysregulation. Conversely, emotion dysregulation served as a partial mediator in the female sample. Such results suggests that although emotion dysregulation may explain the conceptual overlap between psychopathy and borderline traits in men, various dimensions of borderline personality disorder, aside from affective instability, remain relevant to the expression of psychopathy in women.
Penson, Brittany Nicole (2017). The Mediating Role of Emotion Dysregulation in Psychopathy and Borderline Traits. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from