Risk as reward: Reinforcement sensitivity theory and psychopathic personality perspectives on everyday risk-taking
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This study updates and synthesises research on the extent to which impulsive and antisocial disposition predicts everyday pro- and antisocial risk-taking behaviour. We use the Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory (RST) of personality to measure approach, avoidance, and inhibition dispositions, as well as measures of Callous- Unemotional and psychopathic personalities. In an international sample of 454 respondents, results showed that RST, psychopathic personality, and callous-unemotional measures accounted for different aspects of risk-taking behaviour. Specifically, traits associated with ‘fearlessness’ related more to ‘prosocial’ (recreational and social) risk-taking, whilst traits associated with ‘impulsivity’ related more to ‘antisocial’ (ethical and health) risk-taking. Further, we demonstrate that psychopathic personality may be demonstrated by combining the RST and callousunemotional traits (high impulsivity, callousness, and low fear). Overall this study showed how impulsive, fearless and antisocial traits can be used in combination to identify pro- and anti-social risk-taking behaviours; suggestions for future research are indicated.
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