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Title:Psychopathy as a female phenotypic expression of borderline personality disorder? Implications for the latent structure of emotional dysregulation
Author(s):Sprague, Jenessa
Director of Research:Verona, Edelyn
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Verona, Edelyn
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Allen, Nicole E.; Heller, Wendy; Roberts, Brent W.; Miller, Gregory A.
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Borderline Personality Disorder
Emotion Dysregulation
Abstract:Although research supports the existence of primary and secondary psychopathy variants in men, little work has examined psychopathy variants in women. Research on gender differences is important, as evidence suggests that the interaction of the interpersonal-affective (F1) and impulsive-antisocial (F2) features of psychopathy is associated with borderline personality disorder (BPD) in women. This has prompted some theorists to propose that secondary psychopathy actually represents a female manifestation of BPD among women. However, empirical research in this area is lacking. Towards this end, the current project sought to achieve three goals using archival data collected across three different studies. These studies examined whether BPD, as well as the emotional dysregulation associated with the disorder, manifests in terms of secondary psychopathy in women. First, Studies 1 and 2 tested the hypothesis that the interaction of the two psychopathy factors is associated with BPD in women (Goal #1). Across both studies, results indicated that the interaction of F1 and F2 traits was associated with BPD in women; this association was found to be specific to women in Study 1. Second, the current investigation moved beyond the BPD diagnosis in order to clarify how the underlying pathology associated with the disorder (i.e., emotional dysregulation) relates to psychopathy across genders (Goal #2). Before this could be accomplished, Study 3 evaluated four competing models of emotional dysregulation in men versus women – (1) a two-factor hierarchical model; (2) a developmental model; (3) a two-factor model; and (4) a one-factor model. Analyses revealed that emotional dysregulation is best represented by a one-factor model and, moreover, that this model demonstrates at least partial measurement invariance across genders. Supplementary analyses further clarified how the one-factor model relates to existing internalizing and externalizing dimensions of psychopathology. Lastly, Study 3 determined whether the aforementioned relationship between the psychopathy factors and BPD in women is generalizable to the broader construct of emotional dysregulation. Namely, Study 3 examined whether the one-factor model of emotional dysregulation established per Goal 2 phenotypically manifests in terms of secondary psychopathy in women versus men (Goal #3). Similar to the findings of Goal #1, results indicated that the interaction of F1 and F2 psychopathy scores is associated with emotional dysregulation among women, but not men. This observed association between psychopathy and emotional dysregulation was also not accounted for by a history of childhood abuse. The findings of the current project are important for informing work on dimensional conceptualizations of personality psychopathology, moving towards more empirically-derived psychopathology constructs, and refining how their manifestations are understood across genders.
Issue Date:2013-08-22
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Jenessa Sprague
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-08-22
Date Deposited:2013-08

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