Emotional Content Analysis Among People With Psychopathy During Emotional Induction by the International Affective Picture System

The emotional processes within people with psychopathy have been thoroughly investigated. Although content analysis is an interesting area for evaluating emotional characteristics, few data exist concerning the speech content of people with psychopathy in response to affective and neutral images. Our study population included male forensic inpatients (n = 47) from Centre Régional de soins Psychiatrique, Les Marronniers, Tournai, Belgium. According to their total score, as measured by the Pscyhopathy Checklist—Revised (PCL-R), the inpatients were divided into three groups: Psychopath (n = 24, PCL-R score of ≥25), Intermediate (n = 12, PCL-R score from 15.0 to 24.9), and Nonpsychopath (n = 11, score of ≤14.9). Using Tropes analyses and EMOTAIX scenario tools, we examined each narrative’s emotional characteristics. We tested the hypothesis that people with psychopathy report fewer emotional words on all International Affective Picture System images, particularly on negative-valence images. Generally, our results do not support this hypothesis, that people with psychopathy report fewer emotional words on all images, but rather suggested a specific discordance in the verbal emotional treatment (exclusively PCL-R Interpersonal factor) but not in terms of the subjective evaluation. Moreover, this interpersonal factor was positively correlated with the self-referring pronouns (i.e., I and me) setting, whereas the PCL-R Social Deviance factor was positively correlated with action verbs. Speech outputs of people with psychopathy present specificities in terms of emotional content and verbal setting. The results are congruent with the notion that psychopathy combines both functionality and subtle impairment.

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