The intent of this thesis is to explore the perceived discrepancies between individual scores of psychopathy, particularly the division of primary and secondary psychopathy, and how such scores may moderate the relationship of one's emotional experiences with the corresponding emotional expression. There is evidence to consider that a person's working memory ability and/or volitional suppression of expression may also moderate this relationship and result in constricted emotional expression, a trait often found in primary psychopathy. Undergraduate participants completed the study online, and after exclusions, a final sample size of 126 participants (62.7% women) was used in analyses. An initial linear regression found that primary psychopathy severity showed a negative relationship with performance on a visuo-spatial n-back test of working memory. While age did not relate to expression, women reported a greater strength of expression for both negative and positive emotions than men. Using hierarchical linear regressions, a significant four-way interaction was found between primary psychopathy severity, working memory performance, degree of volitional expression suppression, and internal emotional experience, in predicting the strength of expressing negative emotions. Analysis of simple effects revealed that, for participants scoring higher in primary psychopathy (n = 63), there was a significant three-way interaction for experience of negative emotions, the use of emotional suppression, and working memory performance in predicting the strength of expressing negative emotions. Simple effects of this interaction showed that for a subgroup who were higher in primary psychopathy and volitional suppression of emotional expression (n = 25), there was significant negative relationship between the frequency of experiencing negative emotions and the strength of expressing those emotions. There were no significant interactions involving secondary psychopathy severity or variables relating to positive emotions in any regression. The findings of this study could be useful for future research on psychopathy as it relates to understanding the characteristics and functioning of individuals with psychopathy.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Bedwell, Jeffrey


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program

Clinical Psychology



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date


Included in

Psychology Commons