Behavioral and electrophysiological responses to fairness norm violations in antisocial offenders.Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2019 Sep; 269(6):731-740.EA
Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a stable, lifelong pattern of disregard for and violation of others' rights. Disruptions in the representation of fairness norms may represent a key mechanism in the development and maintenance of this disorder. Here, we investigated fairness norm considerations and reactions to their violations. To examine electrophysiological correlates, we assessed the medial frontal negativity (MFN), an event-related potential previously linked to violations of social expectancy and norms. Incarcerated antisocial violent offenders (AVOs, n = 25) and healthy controls (CTLs, n = 24) acted as proposers in the dictator game (DG) and ultimatum game (UG) and received fair vs. unfair UG offers from either another human (social context) or a computer (non-social context). Results showed that AVOs made lower offers in the DG but not the UG, indicating more rational and strategic behavior. Most importantly, when acting as recipients in the UG, acceptance rates were modulated by social context in CTLs, while AVOs generally accepted more offers. Correspondingly, ERP data indicated pronounced MFN amplitudes following human offers in CTLs, whereas MFN amplitudes in AVOs were generally reduced. The current data suggest intact fairness norm representations but altered reactions to their violation in antisocial personality disorder.