Date of Award

Spring 3-4-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Forensic Psychology



First Advisor

Diana Falkenbach

Second Reader

William Gottdiener

Third Advisor

Shanah Segal


Psychopathy is a multidimensional construct consisting of aberrant personality characteristics that are categorized as either affective and interpersonal (F1) or antisocial and deviant traits (F2). While the differentiation between F1 and F2 psychopathic traits has been studied, limited research examines the etiologies of the factors. Existing theory hypothesizes that the development of F1 traits is influenced by biological factors, whereas F2 traits arise from environmental influences. F2 traits are theorized to develop as a defensive behavior when individuals are constantly exposed to unhealthy environments or persistent traumatic experiences. One example of an unhealthy environment is exposure to a substance-abusing environment during childhood. Children within such environments are also more at risk for experiencing various forms of abuse and neglect, such as maltreatment, physical and sexual abuse, and overall inconsistent parenting (Salekan & Lynam, 2011). This neglect and abuse may act as a mediator between substance-abuse exposure and F2 traits. Therefore, individuals who experience these types of neglect and abuse have higher F2 psychopathic traits. The current study explored the association between exposure to substance-abusing environments and severity of psychopathic traits, as operationalized by the PPI-R, within a college sample. Results indicated a significant and positive correlation between exposure to substance-abusive environments during childhood, F2 traits, and experiences of childhood abuse or neglect. As hypothesized, experiences of childhood abuse and neglect did act as a mediator between childhood substance-abusive environments and F2 traits.



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