Award Date

August 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Stephen Benning

Second Committee Member

Rachael Robnett

Third Committee Member

Shane Kraus

Fourth Committee Member

Lynn Comella

Number of Pages



Psychopathy is a personality construct consisting of a number of traits often associated with what many consider to be the “dark side” of personality. Multiple models and associated measurement tools have been created in an attempt to conceptualize psychopathy, but the field has not reached a consensus in its definition of this construct at this time. Across models, psychopathy is associated with a number of negative attitudes and behaviors, including various forms of prejudice. The relationship between psychopathy and one form of prejudice has not been examined, constituting a serious gap in the literature. This form of prejudice is ambivalent sexism, which is divided into hostile and benevolent sexism. Hostile sexism is hostile and overtly harmful attitudes toward women, such as those that characterize them as incompetent or manipulative. Benevolent sexism, on the other hand, involves attitudes toward women in line with stereotypes and restrictive gender roles that appear positive on the surface, such as those that characterize women as naturally nurturing, docile, or chaste. Little research has been done on the relationship between psychopathy and ambivalent sexism, and the few studies that have been conducted are spread across models of psychopathy and have often not included benevolent sexism. This study addresses this gap in the literature by subjecting multiple measures of psychopathy to a factor analysis to identify broader factors of psychopathy and using these emergent factors in subsequent analyses with multiple measures of sexism: the traditional self-report scale (The Ambivalent Sexism Inventory), a vignette measure, and a dialogue tree task intended to simulate real-world interactions. Undergraduate psychology students (n = 351) participated in this study. The results of the factor analysis indicated that three factors should be extracted: Boldness, Meanness, and Disinhibition, in line with the Triarchic model of psychopathy. Emergent Boldness correlated with hostile sexism on the self-report and vignette tasks, and benevolent sexism on none of the tasks. Emergent Disinhibition correlated with both hostile and benevolent sexism on only the self-report scale. Emergent Meanness showed the strongest relationships with both hostile and benevolent sexism across all measures of sexism. It correlated with hostile sexism on the self-report, vignette, and dialogue tree tasks, and benevolent sexism on the self-report and dialogue tree tasks. The results of the factor analysis support the Triarchic model of psychopathy; with replication, this could assist the field in finally coming to a consensus about how to define and measure psychopathy, leading to more effective and generalizable research on this construct. Further, the analyses examining emergent psychopathy factors and various measurements of sexism indicate that Meanness is the factor of psychopathy most closely related to sexism across multiple manifestations, and that psychopathy as a whole most strongly related to hostile sexism. Results also support the use of multi-modal assessments of sexism in future research to more fully understand the possible manifestations of this form of prejudice. Finally, and most importantly, these results indicate that benevolent sexism is not a benign form of sexism as it is often considered. Rather, it is associated with the most interpersonally malignant factor of psychopathy, Meanness. This highlights the importance of future research examining the harmful outcomes associated with experiencing benevolent sexism in order to mitigate the negative impacts of sexism on individuals and on society as a whole.


benevolent sexism; factor analysis; hostile sexism; meanness; psychopathy; sexism


Clinical Psychology | Personality and Social Contexts | Social Psychology

File Format


File Size

882 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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