Triarchic Model Personality Traits and Their Impact on Mock Juror Perceptions of a White-Collar Criminal Defendant.
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The triarchic model of psychopathy proposes that this personality disorder is composed of 3 relatively distinct constructs: meanness, disinhibition, and boldness. Although the first 2 components are widely accepted, boldness has generated considerable theoretical debate concerning its relevance-largely due to its association with various ostensibly adaptive characteristics and socially desirable behaviors (e.g., self-reported heroism). But is being bold actually perceived by others as an intrinsically adaptive, socially desirable personality trait? We investigated this question using a novel approach-a jury simulation study that manipulated the level of triarchic traits exhibited by a white-collar criminal. More specifically, 330 community members read a vignette in which the defendant's degree of boldness and disinhibition was manipulated and then provided sentence recommendations and other evaluative ratings. As hypothesized, manipulating boldness and disinhibition resulted in more negative views of the defendant, with the boldness manipulation more consistently predicting higher global psychopathy, "meanness," and "evil" ratings. Surprisingly, neither manipulation predicted sentence recommendations, although higher global psychopathy ratings did correlate with more punitive sentence recommendations. The presence of personality traits construed in some contexts as advantageous or socially desirable can be perceived as more dysfunctional and undesirable in other contexts-particularly when they cooccur with criminal behavior.