- Published: November 14, 2012
Since there are currently no effective rehabilitation options for psychopaths, punishment remains the only option at this time. However, one study found that different types of punishment produced different results within the psychopathic test subjects
The study tested three different types of punishment that could potentially create avoidance learning, physical punishment (shock), tangible punishment (loss of money), and social punishment (someone saying “wrong”). The results fascinatingly showed the psychopaths showed significantly lower anticipatory arousal, subjective anxiety, and avoidance learning in response to physical and social punishments. However, in response to tangible punishments, the psychopathic group responded nearly the same as the control group.
What this means is that punishment can work to make psychopaths more socially acceptable beings, but only a specific type of punishment works. Physical and moral reprimanded were ineffective, but personal belongings and ownership still mattered to the psychopaths. More research must be done in this area regarding the proper way to socialize psychopaths, and tangible punishment is a great starting place.
Schmauk F. Punishment, arousal, and avoidance learning in sociopaths. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 76(3.1): 325-335. 1970.