Examining the relationship among substance abuse, negative emotionality and impulsivity across subtypes of antisocial and psychopathic substance abusers Academic Article uri icon


  • Growing evidence suggests that individuals with Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) can be categorized into theoretically meaningful subtypes. This study builds on earlier cluster-analytic research (Poythress et al., 2010) that identified four subtypes of ASPD in a large sample of prison inmates and offenders ordered into mandatory substance abuse treatment. These four subtypes (primary, secondary, and "fearful" psychopathic and non-psychopathic ASPD) differed in theoretically important ways on various criterion measures. Of those participants in substance abuse treatment (N= 571), we compare the four clusters, as well as non-ASPD substance abusers, in terms of (a) the severity of their self-reported alcohol and drug problems and (b) whether the severity of their substance abuse is predicted by similar etiologically important correlates (i.e., negative emotionality, impulsivity). There were modest subgroup differences in abuse, although as expected secondary psychopaths reported more severe misuse than primary psychopaths. Associations between impulsivity and negative emotionality and drug use for the total sample were in the expected direction, though relatively modest in magnitude. Unexpectedly, these associations were weaker among psychopathic subtypes relative to the non-psychopathic subgroups. These findings suggest that the etiology of drug use may differ across subgroups of chronically antisocial individuals. 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Magyar, M. S., Edens, J. F., Lilienfeld, S. O., Douglas, K. S., & Poythress, N.

citation count

  • 29

complete list of authors

  • Magyar, Melissa S||Edens, John F||Lilienfeld, Scott O||Douglas, Kevin S||Poythress, Norman G Jr

publication date

  • May 2011