Interview assessment of boldness: construct validity and empirical links to psychopathy and fearlessness.

Thumbnail Image

Persistent link to this item

View Statistics

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Interview assessment of boldness: construct validity and empirical links to psychopathy and fearlessness.

Published Date




Thesis or Dissertation


The triarchic model of psychopathy (Patrick, Fowles, & Krueger, in press) conceptualizes this intriguing disorder in terms of three distinct elemental phenotypes: disinhibition, reflecting tendencies toward deficient behavioral control and externalizing psychopathology; meanness, reflecting deliberate cruelty and agentic exploitation of others; and boldness, reflecting resilience to life stress, calmness in the face of threat, and social dominance. The predominant instrument for assessing criminal psychopathy, Hare's (1991, 2003) Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R), appears to tap the disinhibition and meanness facets of psychopathy directly and substantially, but captures boldness only indirectly and to a modest degree. Given its reliance on antisocially deviant indicators, the PCL-R is also ill-suited to investigation of non-criminal psychopathy in community settings. Thus, the primary aim of the present study was to evaluate the construct validity and neurobiological correlates of a newly-developed interview measure of the phenotypic boldness construct. Relationships between the Boldness Interview (BI) and multi-modal measures of psychopathy, externalizing psychopathology, and personality traits with theoretical or empirical links to the boldness construct were investigated in a sample of incarcerated adult males. The present study also investigated relationships between the BI measure and emotional modulation of the startle blink reflex - a well-validated physiological measure of fear reactivity that has previously been linked to the interpersonal-affective features of PCL-R psychopathy - in a picture-viewing paradigm. Results strongly supported the construct validity of the BI. Consistent with theory and prediction, BI total scores were: substantially and positively related to the PCL-R Interpersonal facet, the fearless dominance factor of the self-report Psychopathic Personality Inventory (Lilienfeld & Andrews, 1996), and self-reported narcissism, thrill-seeking, and dominance; negatively related to self-report measures of harm avoidance, trait anxiety, fear, and internalizing symptoms; and largely unrelated to externalizing psychopathology. Total scores on the BI were also related to reduced startle amplitude during aversive pictures in the picture-viewing paradigm. These results are discussed in terms of their implications for the assessment and conceptualization of psychopathy (particularly non-criminal psychopathy) as well as the neurobiological underpinnings of the disorder.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2009. Major: Psychology. Advisor: Christopher J. Patrick, Ph.D. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 125 pages, appendices A-C.

Related to




Series/Report Number

Funding information

Isbn identifier

Doi identifier

Previously Published Citation

Suggested citation

Hall, Jason Robert. (2009). Interview assessment of boldness: construct validity and empirical links to psychopathy and fearlessness.. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

Content distributed via the University Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor. By using these files, users agree to the Terms of Use. Materials in the UDC may contain content that is disturbing and/or harmful. For more information, please see our statement on harmful content in digital repositories.