Do You See What Eye See: The Effect of Psychopathic Traits on Memory and Attention to Emotional Images

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Tansony, Ellen




Numerous studies have found a central/peripheral trade-off in memory for negative stimuli. This pattern is supported by eye-tracking studies showing more frequent fixations on central rather than peripheral details. One study has examined this in relation to psychopathy and found that psychopaths equally remembered central and peripheral details for negative stimuli (Christianson et al., 1996). The present study investigated the relationship between psychopathy, the central/peripheral trade-off, and eye-tracking patterns. Eye movements of 68 undergraduates scoring high or low in psychopathy were tracked while viewing emotional images. Memory for these images was subsequently tested. A central/peripheral trade-off existed only for the positive and neutral image. Eye-tracking patterns were unrelated to memory. There was no effect of psychopathy on memory, however differences in eye fixation count and duration emerged between psychopathy groups with the positive image. Results suggest that the relationship between attention and memory is more complicated than previously believed.


Psychology - Personality
Psychology - Cognitive




Carleton University

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