Reduced lateralization in verbal dichotic listening in adolescent psychopaths

J Abnorm Psychol. 1990 Aug;99(3):272-7. doi: 10.1037//0021-843x.99.3.272.


One possible explanation for previous findings of abnormal linguistic processing in psychopaths is that they are less lateralized for verbal processes. This study tests the hypothesis that adolescent psychopaths show evidence of reduced lateralization on a verbal dichotic listening task. Four self-report and behavioral measures of psychopathy were used to define psychopathy using cluster analytic techniques in 40 juvenile offenders aged 13 to 18 years. Psychopaths were found to have reduced ear asymmetries relative to nonpsychopaths, a result indicating reduced lateralization for verbal material. The effect does not appear to be mediated by group differences in age, ethnic background, IQ, overall performance, left-handedness, selective attention to one ear, or interhemispheric transfer deficits. This result suggests that the previous finding by Hare and McPherson is robust, provides some preliminary validity for the assessment of psychopathy before age 18, and indicates initial support for the utility of cluster analytic techniques in the assessment of psychopathy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology*
  • Attention*
  • Dichotic Listening Tests
  • Humans
  • Juvenile Delinquency / psychology*
  • Male
  • Neurocognitive Disorders / psychology
  • Personality Tests
  • Speech Perception*