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Thirty-Third Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology

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173. The Words Behind the Actions: Examination of Semantic and Prosodic Communication Channels Across Negative Valence in Psychopathic and Non-Psychopathic Offenders

Linguistic analysis has afforded researchers with a unique opportunity to obtain greater insight into underlying psychological functioning. These patterns have been examined through objective computerized assessments of natural speech, such as the Computerized Assessment of Natural Speech (CANS; Cohen et al., 2009) in both prosodic and semantic channels of communication. Measures used to analyze prosodic content in relation to psychological processes lend themselves to a wide variety of forms of psychopathology, including psychopathy. The present study examined natural speech output in a clinical interview (i.e., Psychopathy Checklist – Revised; PCL-R) within the context of negatively valenced probes in both high and low levels of arousal in a male offender sample (n = 93). Moreover, the present study compares variables related to prosodic output and semantic context utilizing transcriptions of the identified probes to identify potential similarities and discrepancies. The present study anticipates significant differences in both semantic and prosodic speech variables between psychopathic and non-psychopathic offenders (e.g., fewer and less intense emotion words used by psychopaths). Moreover, the study anticipates greater usage of third person pronouns in psychopathic offenders, as this is a mechanism indicative of emotional distancing.

Jordan Donson
University of North Texas

Hannah Walsh
University of North Texas

Ashley Risinger
University of North Texas

Craig Neumann
University of North Texas

Kent Kiehl
University of New Mexico, The Mind Institute


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