Psychopathic and nonpsychopathic inmates differ from normal controls in tolerance levels of electrical stimulation

J Clin Psychol. 1993 May;49(3):326-31. doi: 10.1002/1097-4679(199305)49:3<326::aid-jclp2270490304>;2-5.


With a Tursky electrode applied to the ventral surface of the forearm two samples of inmates (28 psychopaths and 28 nonpsychopaths) were compared to 29 normal controls. No differences were found among the three groups in lower detection thresholds. While there was no difference between the inmate groups in terms of pain tolerance, both inmate groups had a higher tolerance for pain than did the controls. Results do not support previous findings or theories/hypotheses about pain thresholds in psychopathic and nonpsychopathic inmates. Differential learning and experience of pain among inmates, as well as the association among testosterone, dominance, extraversion, and criminality, are suggested to account for the results.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / diagnosis
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology*
  • Arousal*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain Threshold*
  • Personality Inventory
  • Prisoners / psychology*
  • Socialization