Emotion regulation in incarcerated young offenders with psychopathic traits

  • Heinzen H
  • Koehler D
  • Smeets T
 et al. 
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Abstract

Core features of psychopathic personality in adults are shallow affectivity and generally low levels of emotional distress. Several studies suggest that these features are also in young people with psychopathic personality traits. The concept of emotion regulation refers to a person's ability to regulate negative emotions to reduce feelings of emotional distress. Since maladaptive emotion regulation has been associated with high levels of emotional distress it may be expected that individuals withpsychopathic personality traits show particularly adaptive strategies for the regulation of negative emotionality. On the basis of these expectations, the current study investigated the relationship between psychopathic traits, self-reported degree of emotional problems, and emotion regulation strategies in 104 incarcerated young offenders. Psychopathic traits were not associated with emotional problems or with adaptive emotion-regulation but were positively related to maladaptive emotion regulation strategies. When scores for each psychopathy factorwere investigated separately, significant disparities were found in emotional symptoms and emotion regulation.

Author-supplied keywords

  • antisocial behavior
  • emotion regulation
  • forensic setting
  • juvenile offenders
  • negative emotionality
  • psychopathy
  • young offenders

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Authors

  • Hanna Heinzen

  • Denis Koehler

  • Tom Smeets

  • Tibor Hoffer

  • Christian Huchzermeier

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