Emotional Intelligence in Incarcerated Female Offenders With Psychopathic Traits

J Pers Disord. 2019 Jun;33(3):370-393. doi: 10.1521/pedi_2018_32_349. Epub 2018 Mar 5.


Emotional impairment is a core feature of psychopathy, and the disorder has been linked to an inability to recognize and regulate emotion, leading to deficiencies in empathy and difficulties in social functioning. This study investigated associations among psychopathic traits and ability-based emotional intelligence (EI) in female offenders and integrated data with previously published male offender data (Ermer, Kahn, Salovey, & Kiehl, 2012) to examine gender differences in relationships. Results showed that female offenders were impaired in the understanding and management of emotion relative to the general population, and that female offenders scored higher than male offenders in EI. Affective psychopathic traits (e.g., callousness) yielded a small relationship with difficulties in managing emotion in female offenders, and few gender differences in relationships between psychopathy and EI were found. Findings contribute to literature on emotional functioning in females with psychopathic traits and further understanding of gender differences in emotional abilities among offenders.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology*
  • Criminals / psychology*
  • Emotional Intelligence*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prisoners / psychology*