Psychopathy and COVID-19: Triarchic model traits as predictors of disease-risk perceptions and emotional well-being during a global pandemic

Pers Individ Dif. 2021 Jul;176:110770. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2021.110770. Epub 2021 Feb 12.


This study extended recent research showing that perceptions of disease risk are associated with emotional well-being during COVID-19 by examining how psychopathic traits of boldness, meanness, and disinhibition influence these perceptions and psychological outcomes. During the Italian national lockdown, a large community sample (M age = 31.3 years) completed online questionnaire measures of the triarchic psychopathic traits, perceptions of disease susceptibility and danger, and recent well-being. Path analyses revealed differing roles for the triarchic traits: boldness and meanness predicted greater well-being (lower stress, higher positive affect) and disinhibition predicted lower well-being. Further, boldness and meanness were linked to well-being through distinct indirect pathways of low perceived susceptibility to infection (boldness) and low perceived dangerousness of COVID-19 (boldness and meanness). Findings speak to the triarchic model's utility in explaining socioemotional phenomena during times of crisis and support the distinct biobehavioral conceptualizations of boldness as low threat sensitivity, meanness as low affiliative capacity, and disinhibition as deficient affective and behavioral control.

Keywords: Biobehavioral traits; COVID-19; Disease perceptions; Psychopathy; Stress.