Family Function, Aggression, and Psychopathic Personality Traits in College Students
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This study assesses the interrelationships between psychopathy, family function, and aggression. While separate relationships have been established between these variables, there is a lack of understanding with respect to their interrelationships. Studies have shown that a negative family environment cultivates maladaptive behaviors and aggression associated with psychopathy. This study attempted to delineate the interrelationships between family function and aggression and their relationships with psychopathy. It was anticipated that psychopathic traits would be positively associated with an undesirable family history and also with higher levels of aggression. However, it is unclear whether family function mediates the relationship between psychopathy and aggression. Participants (N = 188) completed an online survey consisting of demographic questions, the Psychopathic Personality Inventory-Revised, The McMaster Family Assessment Device, and the Buss Perry Aggression Questionnaire. The data was analyzed using a regression approach to establish whether psychopathy facilitates the relationship between family history and aggression. Results suggested that while there is a correlation between family function and physical aggression, Factor 2 “Self-Centered Impulsivity” of the PPI-R scale was a mediating factor. Similar results were shown with family function and hostility, with Factor 2 providing a mediating effect between the two variables. In both cases, Factor 2 was the mediating factor, suggesting that Factor 2 facilitates or enhances the relationship between family function and physical aggression/hostility. The findings of this research have the potential to better inform professionals in fields such as forensic psychology, by leading to a better understanding of how family history moderates psychopathic traits and aggression.