Psychopathy and Trait Emotional Intelligence

Pers Individ Dif. 2008 Feb;44(3):735-745. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2007.10.007.


Psychopathic individuals are infamous for their chronic and diverse failures of social adjustment despite their adequate intellectual abilities. Non-cognitive factors, in particular trait emotional intelligence (EI), offer one possible explanation for their lack of success. This study explored the association between psychopathy and EI, as measured by the Psychopathy Checklist - Revised (PCL-R; Hare, 2003) and Trait Meta-Mood Scale (TMMS, Salovey, Mayer, Golman, Turvey & Palfai, 1995). Consistent with the Response Modulation (RM) model of psychopathy (Newman & Lorenz, 2003), low-anxious psychopathic individuals had significantly lower scores on TMMS Repair and Attention compared to controls. Consistent with proposals by Patrick and Lang (1999) regarding PCL-R factors, these EI deficits related to different aspects of the psychopathy construct. Correlations revealed significant inverse associations between PCL-R factor 1 and Attention and PCL-R factor 2 and Repair. We propose that the multi-dimensional EI framework affords a complementary perspective on laboratory-based explanations of psychopathy.