Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Psychological Sciences

First Advisor

Donald Lynam

Committee Chair

Donald Lynam

Committee Member 1

Susan South

Committee Member 2

Douglas Samuel


Psychopathy is a personality disorder that is robustly linked to interpersonal difficulties, delinquency, aggression, and general antisocial conduct. Previous research has explored a number of potential deficits underlying these behaviors including reduced fear, impaired emotional responding, and poor response modulation. Drawing from extant personality work that has demonstrated the importance of interpersonal antagonism as a core feature of psychopathy, the present project examines deficits in social closeness as potential core features of the disorder. This possibility was examined in 195 undergraduate students (49% male) via a multi-method approach. In addition to several psychopathy instruments, participants completed self-report measures of social closeness including the NEO-PI-R, Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire, and Interpersonal Adjective Scales. Participants also completed laboratory tasks designed to measure social closeness including a social discounting task and an Implicit Association Task. Results indicate that more psychopathic individuals feel less socially close to others and value social relationships less. Therefore, the present study suggests that deficits in social closeness and communion should be studied more specifically in psychopathy, and that such deficits may, in fact, be central to the disorder.