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Psychopathology, Ethical Identity, and Aggression

Psychopathology, Ethical Identity, and Aggression

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Psychopathology, Ethical Identity, and Aggression

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  1. Psychopathology, Ethical Identity, and Aggression  Ashley V. Lawrence and Darcia F. Narvaez, PhD University of Notre Dame, Department of Psychology BACKGROUND Humans are social beings, with a need for positive interpersonal experiences (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). Positive interpersonal experiences are protective against the development of psychopathology and predictive of recovery from psychopathology (Abela, & Hankin, 2005; La Greca & Harrison, 2005). Yet psychopathology may itself make social interaction difficult. We examine whether psychopathology inhibits prosocial moral functioning. Psychopathology has been linked to impaired empathy in both depression (e.g., Field, Diego, & Hernandez-Reif, 2009; O’Conner, Betty, Weiss, & Gilbert, 2002; Thoma et al., 2011) and anxiety (e. g. Negd, Mallan, & Lipp, 2011; Deardorff, Kendall, Finch, & Sitarz, 1977). Both anxiety and depression are positively related to personal distress, self-focused empathy, and negatively related to empathetic concern and perspective taking, other focused empathy. Narvaez, Brooksand Mattan (2011) identify a prosocial ethical orientation, termed engagement ethic, and a self-protective orientation, termed safety ethic. Of the safety ethic there are two important subtypes; wallflower, a withdrawing protective focus, and bunker, a reactive protective focus. We hypothesize that • Engagement ethical orientation will be associated positively with empathetic concern and perspective taking • Bunker and wallflower orientations will be associated positively with personal distress We further hypothesize that more reported depression and anxiety symptoms will be associated with; • High levels of wallflower and bunker ethic • Low levels of engagement ethic • More self reported aggressive action External Stressor Ex. A Tiger Who Thinks You Are Super Tasty Flight or Fight Faint or Freeze Escape (Adaptive Response) Internal Stressor Ex.Symptoms of Depression Or Anxiety Social Isolation Aggression (Maladaptive Response) Flight or Fight (Bunker) Faint or Freeze (Wallflower) METHOD 157 individuals participated in this study through Amazon Mechanical Turk. The following measures were administered; • The Close Relationship Questionnaire (CRQ; Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991); • Using the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI; Davis, 1983) • Three of the ethical orientation measures developed by Narvaez, Brooks & Hardy(2013)were used to assess three ethics; engagement, bunker, and wallflower. • 64-item Inventory of Depression and Anxiety Symptoms (IDAS; Watson et al., 2007). RESULTS Engagement ethic was significantly positively correlated to empathetic concern (r=0.457, p<.01) and perspective taking (r=0.385, p<0.01) Bunker and wallflower ethics were significantly positively correlated to personal distress (bunker; r=-0.235, p<0.01; wallflower; r=-0.471, p<0.01), and negatively correlated to empathetic concern (bunker; r=.0-402, p,0.01; wallflower; r=-0.233, p<0.01). Three regression analyses were performed, variable selection based upon correlational analyses; • Predicting bunker ethical orientation with dismissing attachment, empathetic concern, perspective taking, personal distress, and total anxiety and depression symptoms (F(5,156)= 13.537 ,p<.01; total anxiety and depression symptoms; , β= 0.412, p<.01) • Predicting wallflower ethical orientation with fearful attachment, preoccupied attachment, empathetic concern, perspective taking, personal distress, and total anxiety and depression symptoms (F(6,155)=6.993 ,p<.01; total anxiety and depression symptoms; , β= 0.375, p<.01 • Predicting past aggression with fearful attachment, preoccupied attachment, personal distress, anxiety and depression, bunker orientation, and wallflower orientation (F(6,155)=39.932, p<0.01; bunker orientation, β= 0.166, p<.01) CONCLUSIONS Although the present study does not answer the question of causality or temporal precedence, it provides a solid foundation for further research and suggests a close relationship between mental health and moral functioning and a clear characterization of moral functioning as negatively impacted by psychopathology. Furthermore, our results suggest that it may be valuable for different types of psychological treatments to be evaluated in light of their ability to address the moral functioning aspect of anxiety and depression, and perhaps other psychological illnesses. For additional information please contact: Ashley Lawrence, Department of Psychology, University of Notre Dame, Alawren1@nd.edu