Resting Heart Rate and Psychopathy Revisited: Findings From the Add Health Survey

Nicholas Kavish, Q. John Fu, Michael G. Vaughn, Zhengmin Qian, Brian B. Boutwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Despite the prior linkages of low resting heart rate to antisocial behavior broadly defined, less work has been done examining possible associations between heart rate to psychopathic traits. The small body of research on the topic that has been conducted so far seems to suggest an inverse relationship between the two constructs. A smaller number of studies has found the opposite result, however, and some of the previous studies have been limited by small sample sizes and unrepresentative samples. The current study attempts to help clarify the relationship between resting heart rate and psychopathic traits in a large, nationally representative sample (analytical N ranged from 14,173-14,220) using an alternative measure of psychopathic traits that is less focused on antisocial processes, and rooted in personality traits. No significant relationship between heart rate and psychopathic traits, or heart rate and a measure of cold-heartedness, was found. It is possible that previous findings of a link between heart rate and psychopathy have been driven by the inclusion of overt antisocial behavior in many traditional psychopathy measures. Further work is needed to confirm the associations (or lack thereof) between heart rate and the behavioral, affective, and personality trait aspects of psychopathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)543-557
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology


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