Purpose: Few prior studies address relationships between anger expression and psychopathic traits. Emotion deficit perspectives suggest that anger expression is negatively related or unrelated to psychopathic traits or positively associated only with lifestyle-antisocial components of psychopathy. The affect regulation theory of psychopathy suggests: 1) chronic anger expression is positively associated with psychopathy; 2) this relationship is not solely attributable to negative emotionality or trait anger; and 3) anger expression can partly account for some important correlates of psychopathy. Methods: We pitted the anger expression predictions of the affect regulation theory against those of the emotion deficit perspective in three independent samples: community adults (N = 122), incarcerated adults (N = 161), and adolescent detainees (N = 150). Results: In all three samples, there were positive relationships between indices of psychopathic traits and poor anger regulation that were specific to chronic anger expression and were not attributable to shared variance with trait anger (Samples One and Two) or negative affectivity (all samples). In addition, all three samples provide evidence that indirect effects of anger expression partly accounted for relationships between psychopathy and violence. Conclusions: These findings suggest the value of further attention to anger expression in individuals with psychopathic traits.
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