Boldness psychopathic traits predict reduced gaze toward fearful eyes in men with a history of violence

Steven M. Gillespie, Pia Rotshtein, Anthony R. Beech, Ian J. Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research with developmental and adult samples has shown a relationship of psychopathic traits with reduced eye gaze. However, these relationships remained to be investigated among forensic samples. Here we examined the eye movements of male violent offenders during an emotion recognition task. Violent offenders performed similar to non-offending controls, and their eye movements varied with the emotion and intensity of the facial expression. In the violent offender group Boldness psychopathic traits, but not Meanness or Disinhibition, were associated with reduced dwell time and fixation counts, and slower first fixation latencies, on the eyes compared with the mouth. These results are the first to show a relationship of psychopathic traits with reduced attention to the eyes in a forensic sample, and suggest that Boldness is associated with difficulties in orienting attention toward emotionally salient aspects of the face.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-38
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Psychology
StatePublished - Sep 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by a grant from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) [ES/L002337/1]. The funder had no role in study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the article for publication. The authors would like to thank the staff and men of HMP Grendon for allowing the research to take place.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Author(s)


  • Boldness
  • Emotion
  • Expression
  • Eye gaze
  • Eye scan paths
  • Fear
  • Psychopathy
  • Triarchic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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