Autonomic responsivity in psychopaths: A critical review and theoretical proposal

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The literature on autonomic responsivity in psychopaths is reviewed and critically evaluated with Fowles' (1980) psychophysiological adaptation of Gray's two-factor learning theory used as an organizing framework. It is concluded that, although much recent research has focused on assessing psychopaths' response to punishment in familiar paradigms, several intriguing new paradigms for assessing psychopaths' autonomic responsivity have been developed. A new conceptualization of the existing data is considered involving a motivational imbalance theory based on the Gray/Fowles model. This theory connects autonomic psychophysiological research on psychopaths to literatures on cognition, emotion, and behavior. Research directions for evaluating the validity of the theory are proposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)903-936
Number of pages34
JournalClinical Psychology Review
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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