Adult attachment and psychopathic traits: Investigating the role of gender, maternal and paternal factors

Melina Nicole Kyranides, Anastasia Kokkinou, Somia Imran, Melis Cetin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background: Individuals with psychopathic traits have been identified to display insecure attachment. However, it is not clear which attachment dimension contributes more to high psychopathic traits, and more specifically to callous-unemotional (CU) traits, which parental relationship is more influential and if this differs across gender. 
Methods: This study examined the associations of adult attachment dimensions (avoidance and anxiety) and parental factors (regard, responsibility and control) with CU traits (N=1149) using Hierarchical Linear Regression. The relationship with both parents was assessed separately to identify their unique contribution to CU traits in males and females respectively. 
Results: The avoidant attachment positively predicted while the anxiety attachment dimension negatively predicted CU traits and this was the case for both male and female participants. Interestingly, maternal regard was a negative predictor of CU traits in males only, whereas paternal responsibility arose as a positive predictor of CU traits in females only. Attachment dimensions explained the largest variance in both males and females. 
Conclusions: Findings point to the importance of attachment dimensions contributing to CU traits even in an adult sample. Parental variables were less influential on CU traits compared to attachment related variables and findings suggest that there are differences between males and females. These findings have important implications for gender differentiated attachment based interventions for individuals with CU traits.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalCurrent psychology
Early online date8 May 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 May 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • psychopathic traits
  • callous-unemotional traits
  • attachment
  • parental relationships
  • avoidance attachment
  • anxiety attachment
  • gender


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