**People with strong aggressive and psychopathic tendencies struggle to abandon hostile behaviors once they have adopted them, according to a recent study conducted at the University of Barcelona.**
A mathematical model was used in the study to assess hostile responses and confirmed this hypothesis. The research involved 256 volunteers and revealed similar patterns in both highly aggressive and highly psychopathic individuals, challenging the prevailing assumptions about distinct mechanisms in aggression and psychopathy.
1. A new study from the University of Barcelona confirms that individuals with high aggression or psychopathic traits find it difficult to abandon hostile behaviors.
2. The study used a mathematical model to measure hostile responses and gain insights into the cognitive mechanisms involved.
3. These findings challenge long-held assumptions about separate psychological and neurobiological mechanisms in aggression and psychopathy, suggesting that therapies for one might be effective for the other.
(Source: University of Barcelona)
**Difficulty in Abandoning Hostile Behaviors**
People with aggressive and psychopathic tendencies are quick to adopt hostile behaviors, but they struggle to abandon these behaviors when they are no longer adaptive or practical. This observation, which was previously suspected, has now been confirmed by a study published in Translational Psychiatry. The study employed a comprehensive mathematical methodology to explicitly measure hostile responses.
The research was conducted by experts from the Individual Differences Lab (IDLab) research group at the Faculty of Psychology and the Institute of Neurosciences of the University of Barcelona (UBNeuro). It utilized a mathematical model to determine the cognitive mechanisms that play a significant role in the acquisition of hostile behaviors. The study involved 256 volunteers and assessed various aspects related to aggression, hostility, reward, punishment, and more.
Experts from the University of Lubeck in Germany, as well as the Forensic Psychiatric Center Pompestichting and Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, also participated in the study.
**A New Perspective on Aggression and Psychopathy**
One of the most unexpected findings of the study was the identification of the same pattern in people with high aggressiveness and those with high psychopathy. Aggression is characterized by impulsive tendencies, while psychopathy is defined by controlled or cold-blooded antisocial behavior. These two traits, although similar and correlated, were previously assumed to be driven by distinct psychological and neurobiological mechanisms.
However, the study reveals that aggression and psychopathy are not as different as previously believed. Both can lead to the acquisition of hostile behavior through learning processes. This challenges the conventional understanding of aggression and psychopathy.
According to Professor David Gallardo-Pujol, head of the IDLab, treatments that have been effective for individuals with psychopathy, such as emotional regulation training, may also prove beneficial for individuals with anger management issues. Further studies involving clinical samples are needed to explore this possibility.
**About the Study**
The research was led by Macià Buades-Rotger, a lecturer at the Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychobiology of the UB’s Faculty of Psychology. The study applied a mathematical model to unravel the cognitive mechanisms involved in the acquisition of hostile behaviors.
The findings indicate that individuals with higher levels of self-reported aggressiveness and psychopathy tend to develop stronger but less accurate hostile beliefs, as well as larger prediction errors. Additionally, aggressive and psychopathic traits were associated with more stable representations of hostility over time.
Overall, the study demonstrates that aggressiveness and psychopathy are linked to the acquisition of robust yet imprecise beliefs about hostility through reinforcement learning.
**Conclusion and Future Research**
The study sheds new light on the connection between aggression and psychopathy and challenges the notion of separate mechanisms for these traits. The findings suggest that therapies designed for individuals with one trait may also be effective for those with the other. However, further research involving clinical populations is necessary to confirm these results.
By understanding the cognitive mechanisms involved in the acquisition of hostile behaviors, researchers and clinicians can develop more targeted interventions to help individuals with aggression and psychopathy manage their behaviors effectively.