Date of Award

Fall 12-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Forensic Psychology



First Advisor or Mentor

Diana M. Falkenbach

Second Reader

Jill Grose-Fifer

Third Advisor

Sean Murphy


Psychopathy is a heterogeneous personality construct that has long been associated with antisocial behaviors and outcomes (Hare, 2003; Walsh & Kosson, 2006). However, some literature suggests that socially deviant behaviors and outcomes may not necessarily be a fundamental component of psychopathy (Cooke & Michie, 2001; DeMatteo, Heilbrun, & Marczyk, 2001; Lilienfeld & Widows, 2005). Research on externalizing behaviors and psychopathy has broadened from examining the quality of early relationships as a risk factor (Salekin & Lochman, 2008), to also examining early relationships as a potential protective factor against the development of psychopathic characteristics and antisocial outcomes (i.e. Backman, Laajasalo, Jokela, & Aronen., 2018; Buck, 2015; Gao, Raine, Chan, Venables, & Mednik, 2010). This study retrospectively investigated the quality of early relationships with parents and peers as potential protective factors in moderating the relationship between psychopathic characteristics and self-reported socially deviant behaviors in an undergraduate sample from an urban, Northeastern university. Higher quality relationships with friends and family during childhood and early adolescence were hypothesized to correlate with a lower frequency and versatility of self-reported antisocial behavior. Results were mixed. Higher quality relationships with fathers buffered the relationship between affective and total psychopathy characteristics with antisocial versatility, while high-quality peer relationships appeared to enhance the relationship between psychopathic characteristics and antisocial frequency and versatility. These results suggest that the impact of relationship quality with participants may be differential between parents and peers and should be conceptualized separately.

Included in

Psychology Commons



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