With or Without Empathy: Primary Psychopathy and Difficulty in Identifying Feelings Predict Utilitarian Judgment in Sacrificial Dilemmas

Ethics and Behavior 29 (1):71-85 (2019)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Drawing from research on moral judgment and affective dysfunction, we examined how trait psychopathy and alexithymia, which are characterized as empathic deficits, relate to utilitarian moral judgments in sacrificial dilemmas. As predicted, primary and secondary psychopathy traits and alexithymia were associated with reduced empathic concern. However, primary psychopathy and difficulty identifying feelings, but not secondary psychopathy and other two alexithymia traits, were associated with utilitarian judgments. Moreover, hierarchical regression analysis showed that primary psychopathy, difficulty identifying feelings, and empathic concern made unique contributions to the prediction of direct harm on the victim, whereas alexithymia traits made weaker contributions. Although the lack of affective empathy is found in psychopathy and alexithymia, the process through which the two traits lead to utilitarian judgment in sacrificial dilemmas may be distinct. The present findings add to the growing literature, contributing to a fuller picture of the relationship between empathy, trait psychopathy, and alexithymia.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 77,985

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Empathic dysfunction in psychopathic individuals.R. J. R. Blair - 2007 - In F. D. Farrow & R. Woodruff (eds.), Empathy in mental illness. Cambridge University Press. pp. 3-16.
Neurosurgery for psychopaths? The problems of empathy and neurodiversity.Erick Ramirez - 2016 - American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 7 (3):166-168.
Internalism, Emotionism, and the Psychopathy Challenge.Lei Zhong - 2013 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 20 (4):329-337.
Psychopathy and moral rationality.Eric Matthews - 2014 - In Thomas Schramme (ed.), Being Amoral. MIT Press. pp. 71-89.
Primary sociopathy (psychopathy) is a type, secondary is not.Linda Mealey - 1995 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 18 (3):579-599.


Added to PP

32 (#372,861)

6 months
1 (#485,425)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?