5 years ago

The perils of unitary models of the etiology of mental disorders-The response modulation hypothesis of psychopathy as a case example: Rejoinder to Newman and Baskin-Sommers (2016).

Watts AL, Smith SF, Lilienfeld SO
We respond to Newman and Baskin-Sommers's (2016) criticisms of our meta-analytic and narrative synthesis of the response modulation hypothesis (RMH) of psychopathy (Smith & Lilienfeld, 2015). We concur with Newman and Baskin-Sommers that our results offer modest support for the RMH and that several of our arguments apply with equal force to rival etiological models of psychopathy. Nevertheless, we contend that Newman and Baskin-Sommers' criticisms of our findings and conclusions are unconvincing, and that the research support for the RMH is considerably more mixed than implied by Newman and Baskin-Sommers. We address a number of conceptual and methodological concerns regarding the RMH literature, especially (a) the ambiguous operationalization of a dominant response set, (b) selective and inconsistent interpretation of findings, (c) the failure of successive modifications in the RMH to bolster the model's predictive power, (d) the hazards of ex juvantibus logic (reasoning backward from what works), (e) reliance on a positive test strategy in theory testing, and (f) the questionable assumption that psychopathy is a monolithic entity, rendering it unlikely that the RMH provides a comprehensive causal account of psychopathy. We conclude with a discussion of broader lessons for the psychopathy field imparted by the RMH debate, with particular emphasis on the problematic track record of models of specific etiology in the field of psychopathology at large. (PsycINFO Database Record

Publisher URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27869459

DOI: PubMed:27869459

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