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Characterizing Spitefulness in Terms of the DSM-5 Model of Pathological Personality Traits

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Spitefulness refers to the willingness of an individual to incur a cost in order to inflict harm on someone else. Individual differences in spitefulness have been found to be associated with a range of outcomes including aggression and difficulties understanding the mental states of other individuals. The purpose of the present studies was to examine the associations that spitefulness had with pathological personality traits in order to expand what is known about the nomological network of spitefulness. Study 1 examined the connections between spitefulness and pathological personality traits captured by the brief form of the Personality Inventory for the DSM-5 (PID-5-BF) in 1836 undergraduates. Study 2 examined the associations that spitefulness had with pathological personality traits captured by the PID-5 in 414 community members. Across these two studies, spitefulness was found to have consistent positive associations with the pathological personality traits of antagonism (β = .32 in Study 1 and β = .28 in Study 2) and disinhibition (β = .12 in Study 1 and β = .29 in Study 2). Discussion focuses on the implications of these findings for the understanding of spitefulness.

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Correspondence to Virgil Zeigler-Hill.

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This research was not supported by any external funding.

Conflict of Interest

Virgil Zeigler-Hill declares that he has no conflict of interest. Amy E. Noser declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Zeigler-Hill, V., Noser, A.E. Characterizing Spitefulness in Terms of the DSM-5 Model of Pathological Personality Traits. Curr Psychol 37, 14–20 (2018).

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