Psychophysiology of aggression, psychopathy, and conduct problems: a meta-analysis

Psychol Bull. 2004 Jul;130(4):531-52. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.130.4.531.


A meta-analysis of 95 studies was conducted to investigate the relations of heart rate (HR) and electrodermal activity (EDA) with aggression, psychopathy, and conduct problems. Analyses revealed a complex constellation of interactive effects, with a failure in some cases of autonomic patterns to generalize across antisocial spectrum behavior constructs. Low resting EDA and low task EDA were associated with psychopathy/sociopathy and conduct problems. However, EDA reactivity was positively associated with aggression and negatively associated with psychopathy/sociopathy. Low resting HR and high HR reactivity were associated with aggression and conduct problems. Physiology--behavior relations varied with age and stimulus valence in several cases. Empirical and clinical implications are discussed.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology*
  • Child
  • Conduct Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male