Date of Award

Summer 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Committee Director

Robert Archer

Committee Member

Richard Handel

Committee Member

Michelle Kelley

Committee Member

John Mason


Psychopathic and sensation seeking traits are often correlated; however, sensation seeking alone is not inherently pathological. This study seeks to investigate possible moderating variables between individuals who are high on sensation seeking but low on measures of psychopathic or antisocial traits. Specifically, a positive family environment is hypothesized to be a moderating variable in the development of psychopathic traits among high sensation seekers. A college student sample assessed for psychopathy, sensation seeking, and family functioning is used to test this hypothesis. Significant relationships between all three constructs were found. Similar to previous data, sensation seeking was found to correlate with many elements of psychopathy. Poor family environment was also associated with higher levels of psychopathy. Significant family environmental differences between those high in sensation seeking but low in psychopathy and those high in both sensation seeking and psychopathy were not found. Possible reasons and limitations of this study are explored.


A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculties of The College of William and Mary, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk State University, and Old Dominion University in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology through the Virginia Consortium Program in Clinical Psychology.


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