Psychopathy increases risk of violence in romantic relationships

October 27, 2016, University of British Columbia
UBC Associate Professor Zach Walsh. Credit: UBC

People with higher levels of psychopathic tendencies are more likely to assault their romantic partners. They are also more likely to drink alcohol, a UBC study has found.

The study, which was conducted at UBC's Okanagan campus, involved looking at data and police reports involving 700 US civil psychiatric patients in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as well as 870 students at UBC's campus in Kelowna, BC.

"In this research, we noted that having of psychopathic personality traits is an important predictor of how likely someone is to engage in ," says Zach Walsh, an associate professor of psychology and the study's principal investigator. "While we also found that people with tended to drink more alcohol, the data tells us it is their personality traits more than substance use that is associated with violence.

"With further investigation, this research may be able to assist policy makers and service providers in their efforts to both predict and reduce violence among couples."

The research also found that association between psychopathic personality traits and violence was consistent across both students and .

Walsh's study, conducted with Jenifer Langille of UBC and Marisa Okano of McGill University, was recently published in the journal Law and Human Behaviour.

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