Manon van Beek: Tilburg University students score low on psychopathy

A literature search, experimenting in the lab or working with SPSS? Tilburg University students write the most diverse theses. In the Master’s Thesis section, Univers highlights one each month. This time: Five Questions for Manon van Beek. She studied victimology and clinical forensic psychology and wrote a dissertation on the relationship between abuse at an early age and the development of psychopathic personality traits.

Illustration: Jeroen de Liger

What is your script about?

“I investigated whether an insecure association influences the relationship between child abuse and the development of psychopathic traits later in life. We know that exposure to child abuse can lead to the development of psychopathic traits. Psychopaths are unsympathetic and strive To make everything go well for themselves, without taking others into account.

Not having a healthy relationship with a parent or caregiver, also known as an insecure attachment, can lead to psychopathy. However, the sum of these three factors has not yet been linked. My hypothesis was that child abuse does not directly lead to psychopathy but takes a roundabout route through insecure attachment, because this additional factor makes child abuse victims unable to build good relationships.”

How do you prove it?

“I had a large group of first-year students evaluate three lists of statements, being asked about the three aspects. I first asked them if they had experienced child abuse. About insecure attachment, it included statements such as “I find it difficult to trust others” and “I feel frustrated when others are not available when I need them.” To test students’ psychopathic complaints, statements such as: “The most important thing for me is to take care of myself, I’m not interested in others.”

“Based on the scores on the three factors, I was able to determine the dependency relationship between insecure association and psychopathy through a statistical analysis. The good news is that Tilburg University students scored low on psychopathy. So I hope that a file School shooting It won’t happen on campus at the moment. However, there appears to be a significant relationship between people who have experienced child abuse and insecure attachment and their psychopathy scores.

“Anyway, the relationship is so great that I would recommend repeating the same research among ‘real’ psychopathy. My research was conducted in a non-representative group, and I believe that replication between a clinical group could provide more insight into behavioral disorders for people with psychopathic traits. “.

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Photo: Jack Tomers.

What are your most striking results?

“There are several ways to express that you never learned to have a healthy relationship as a kid. Some people think only of themselves and don’t need relationships. Others want to get into a relationship but think the other person will disappoint them and therefore refrain from it. My research showed that these two forms are directly related to the development of psychopathic traits, and I found a positive relationship.

“I also found a negative relationship that surprised me. People who constantly seek affirmation because of an insecure attachment and who want to enter into social relationships score lower in psychopathy. In this case, specifically insecure attachment is a protective factor that does not lead to the development of traits of psychopathy”.

What makes your thesis unique?

“As I mentioned, these three factors have not been linked before, although research has been done on the relationship between psychopathy on the one hand and child abuse or insecure attachment on the other. In this sense, the research has been very innovative.

“This also made writing difficult, because there was almost no literature, so I had to look carefully at how I proved my results. I am very proud of that, although I must say I was very fortunate to have just been assigned to this topic.” On the other hand: of course you have to do something with the available possibilities. ”

Do you have any tips for other dissertation writers?

“It will probably vary from person to person, but for me, it was a good idea to start on time. And take a little distance now and then. What does not affect you as a dissertation writer, but what helps, is a committed thesis supervisor. Being able to argue and ask ‘stupid’ questions. The excellent result of my thesis can therefore be partly attributed to my supervisor.”

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