Biofeedback and electrodermal self-regulation in psychopathy

Earl P. Steinberg, Gary E. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Examined the degree to which psychopaths can learn to modify their spontaneous skin resistance responses (SSRRs) using intructions and biofeedback. Ten clinically defined psychopaths and 12 control Ss were tested, using a within-S design. Ss were required to increase and decrease the frequency of SSRRs, first without feedback, then with biofeedback training, and finally without feedback. During prefeedback with instructions alone, control Ss were able to raise SSRRs relative to resting baselines, but psychopaths showed no SSRR control. After 16 min of biofeedback training, both groups were able to raise and lower their SSRRs to a comparable degree. The results for heart rate, measured at the same time, presented the opposite pattern; during prefeedback with instructions alone, both groups produced comparable increases in heart rate, but in postfeedback the controls maintained heart rate whereas the psychopaths did not. Data suggest that psychopaths are as capable of learning to voluntarily regulate electrodermal activity as are controls, but they still differ in autonomic patterning. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)408-415
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1976


  • biofeedback & electrodermal self regulation, psychopaths

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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