Adaptive psychopathic traits: Positive outcomes in a college student sample

  • Jonathan BronchainEmail author
  • Henri Chabrol
  • Patrick Raynal


The presence of positive outcomes observed in some individuals with high psychopathic traits remains relatively unexplained. This study aimed at examining the contribution of specific adaptive psychopathic traits to the emergence of positive behavioral and psychopathological consequences. Participants were 2291 French college students who completed self-report questionnaires assessing negative and adaptive psychopathic traits and psychopathological variables. A cluster analysis based on the negative and adaptive psychopathic traits total scores yielded four distinct groups characterized by moderate negative traits and low adaptive traits (moderate negative psychopathic traits cluster; NP), low negative and adaptive traits (low traits cluster; LT), low negative traits and moderate adaptive traits (adaptive psychopathic traits cluster; AP) and high negative and adaptive traits (high traits cluster; HT). Comparisons between clusters suggested that adaptive psychopathic traits were associated with decreased levels of perceived stress, depression and suicidal ideation. However, the frequency of prosocial and antisocial behaviors was not affected by the presence of adaptive traits. Our results provide important information for assessment and treatment of the negative consequences of psychopathic traits.


Psychopathic traits Depressive symptoms Suicidal ideation Perceived stress Antisocial behavior Prosocial behavior 



The authors received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interests

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethical Statement

All procedures performed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the national research standards and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches en Psychopathologie et Psychologie de la SantéUniversité de ToulouseToulouseFrance
  2. 2.UFR de PsychologieUniversité de Toulouse-Jean JaurèsToulouse cedex 9France

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