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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Language-related hand gestures in criminal psychopaths Gillstrom, Brenda Jean


Hand gestures were coded from videotaped interviews of male prison inmates divided into high (P), medium (M) and low (NP) groups based on the Psychopathy Checklist (Hare, 1980). Compared with other groups, psychopaths were found to make more beats (a type of nonreferential language-related gesture) when speaking about their family background but not when speaking about their criminal history. There were no group differences in the use of other language gestures or nonlanguage gestures. The results are discussed in terms of speech encoding difficulties that psychopaths may experience in relation to content that involves concepts or words that are abstract or emotion-laden. The results are consistent with language research, and suggest that psychopaths differ from others in the processing and use of language.

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