Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Paul Nestor

Second Advisor

Alice S. Carter

Third Advisor

Marc Pomplun


The study examined the relation between psychopathy (as measured by the Psychopathy Personality Inventory-Revised; PPI-R), criminal and substance use history (as measured by the Addition Severity-Lite, ASI), and scores on neuropsychological measures (Wason Selection Task; Wason, Iowa Gambling Task; IGT) that assess social and precautionary reasoning and risky decision-making. The aim was to better understand - through a neuropsychological lens - the decision-making processes that underlie behaviors characteristic of psychopathy. The sample included 23 participants (16 males, 7 females) who had a history of incarceration, had recently been released from prison, and who were active members of a local reintegration and rehabilitation program for ex-offenders. It was hypothesized that PPI-R scores would predict performance on the Wason and IGT. In addition, it was predicted that performance on the PPI-R, Wason and IGT would also be associated with participants' criminal and substance use history. Results revealed that our sample's PPI-R scores did not show evidence of elevated psychopathy but rather were similar to that of a community population. Rather than being characterized by psychopathy, defining features of our sample were found to be persistent substance use and co-occurring engagement with predominately low-level types of criminal activity. In regards to the neuropsychological measures, our sample performed poorly on the Wason, but did not demonstrate difficulty with the IGT. Contrary to prediction, PPI-R scores were not found to be associated with total scores on the Wason or IGT. Additionally, little support was found for an association between substance use and criminal activity. While our study's results did not support our neuropsychological model, our analyses did reveal several interesting findings that can inform future research initiatives in this area.


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