Relationship between Personality Disorder and Moral Judgment Considering the Moderating Role of Empathy: Application of Eye-Tracking Tasks

Document Type : Research Paper


1 M.A , in Psychology, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Tehran , Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Psychology, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Tehran , Tehran, Iran

3 Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran


The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between individuals' moral judgment and their personality and disorder, and the role of empathy as a moderating component. The statistical population of this study includes all individuals aged 18 to 36 years and with at least a bachelor's degree. In the present study, after administering the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III (MCMI-III) to eligible volunteers, 40 subjects (12 males and 28 females) were purposively selected into two groups, normal and personality disorders. All subjects then answered the Defining Issues Test (DIT) and the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI). An eye tracking tool was also used in this study to measure empathy. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and a logistic regression model in SPSS software. The results showed that there was a significant relationship between personality disorder and moral judgment (p = 0.03), but empathy as a moderator was not significant in this regard. Competitive examination of two empathy measures was not significant in the present study. The results suggest that personality disorders reduce individuals' moral judgment. The present study is a first step in the application of the new eye-tracker technology in the study of psychological structures.


خواجه‌موگهی، ن. (1372). آماده‌سازی مقدماتی فرم فارسی پرسشنامۀ بالینی چندمحوری میلون 2 در شهر تهران. پایان‌نامۀ کارشناسی ارشد رشتۀ روان‌شناسی بالینی. انستیتو روان‌پزشکی. تهران.
شریفی، ع. ا. (1386). راهنمای ام سی‌ام آی (میلون 3). تهران: روان‌سنجی.
سرابی، پ.، و صادقی، خ. (1398). ارزیابی مشخصات روان‌سنجی آزمون بالینی چندمحوری میلون 3. فصلنامۀ عملی-پژوهشی روان‌سنجی. 9(33)، 143-121.
فرید، ا.، سعدی‌پور، ا.، کریمی، ی.، و فلسفی‌نژاد، م. ر. (1389). اثربخشی روش‌های آموزش مستقیم، آموزش شناختی اخلاق، شفاف‌سازی ارزش‌ها و تلفیقی بر قضاوت اخلاقی دانش‌آموزان. فصلنامۀ علمی-پژوهشی روان‌شناسی دانشگاه تبریز. 5(9)، 111-91.
فیض‌آبادی، ز.، فرزاد، و. ا.، و شهرآرای، م. (1385). بررسی رابطۀ همدلی با سبک‌های هویت و تعهد در دانشجویان رشته‌های فنی و علوم انسانی. مجلۀ مطالعات روان‌شناختی. 3(2)، 90-65.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).
Balsters, M., Krahmer, E., Swerts, M., & Vingerhoets, A. (2013). Emotional tears facilitate the recognition of sadness and the perceived need for social support. Evolutionary Psychology. 11, 148–158.
Balconi, M., & Canavesio, Y. (2014). Is empathy necessary to comprehend the emotional faces? The empathic effect on attentional mechanisms (eye movements), cortical correlates (N200 event-related potentials) and facial behaviour (electromyography) in face processing. Cognition and Emotion. 30(2), 210-224.
Baron-Cohen, S., Wheelwright, S., Hill, J., Raste, Y., & Plumb, I. (2001). The “Reading the Mind in the Eyes” test revised version: A study with normal adults, and adults with Asperger syndrome or high−functioning autism. Journal o Child Psychology & Psychiatry. 42, 241–251.
Blair, R. J. R. (2003). Neurobiological basis of psychopathy. British Journal of Psychiatry. 182(1), 5–7.
Blair, R. J. R. (2005). Responding to the emotions of others: Dissociating forms of empathy through the study of typical and psychiatric populations. Consciousness and Cognition. 14(4), 698-718.
Charland, L. C. (2006). Moral nature of the DSM-IV cluster B personality disorders. Journal of Personality Disorders. 20(2), 116–125.
Colby, A., & Kohlberg, L. (1987). The measurement of moral judgment (Vol. 1).United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
Corden, B., Chilvers, R., & Skuse, D. (2008). Avoidance of emotionally arousing stimuli predicts social–perceptual impairment in Asperger’s syndrome. Neuropsychologia. 46(1), 137–147.
Corr, P. J., & Matthews, G. (2009). The Cambridge handbook of personality psychology (Cambridge handbooks in psychology) (1st ed.). United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
Cowan, D. G. (2015). The empathic gaze and how to find it: Eye-gaze behaviour to expressions of emotion. PhD dissertation. The University of Queensland. Retrieved from
Cowan, D. G., Vanman, E. J., & Nielsen, M. (2014). Motivated empathy: The mechanics of the empathic gaze. Cognition and Emotion. 28(8), 1522–1530.
Davis, M. H. (1980). A multidimensional approach individual difference in empathy. JSAS Catalog of Selected Documents of Psychology. 10, 85-101.
Davis, M. H. (1981). Individual differences in empathy: A multidimensional approach. ProQuest Information & Learning, US. Retrieved from
Davis, M. H. (1983). Measuring individual differences in empathy: Evidence for a multidimensional approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 44(1), 113–126.
Decety, J. (2013). A fMRI study of affective perspective taking in individuals with psychopathy: Imagining another in pain does not evoke empathy. Frontiers in human neuroscience. 7, 489-503.
Decety, J., & Cowell, J. M. (2014). Friends or foes: Is empathy necessary for moral behavior? Perspectives on Psychological Science. 9(5), 525–537.
Doron, G., Szepsenwol, O., Karp, E., & Gal, N. (2013). Obsessing about intimate-relationships: Testing the double relationship-vulnerability hypothesis. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. 44, 433-440.
Eisenbarth, H., & Alpers, G. W. (2011). Happy mouth and sad eyes: Scanning emotional facial expressions. Emotion. 11(4), 860–865.
Ermer, E., & Kiehl, K. A. (2010). Psychopaths are impaired in social exchange and precautionary reasoning. Psychological Science. 21(10), 1399–1405.
Feltz, A., & Cokely, E. T. (2009). Do judgments about freedom and responsibility depend on who you are? Personality differences in intuitions about compatibilism and incompatibilism, Consciousness and Cognition. 18, 97-112.
Goodstein, L. D., & Lanyon, R. I. (1999). Applications of personality assessment to the workplace: A review. Journal of Business and Psychology. 13(3), 291-322.
Graham, J., Meindl, P., Beall, E., Johnson, K. M., & Zhang, L. (2016). Cultural differences in moral judgment and behavior, across and within societies. Current Opinion in Psychology. 8, 125–130.
Grant, J. E., Mancebo, M. C., Pinto, A., Eisen, J. L., & Rasmussen, S. A. (2006). Impulse control disorders in adults with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Journal of Psychiatric Research. 40(6), 494–501.
Hamlin, J. K. (2014). The origins of human morality: complex socio-moral evaluations by pre-verbal infants. New Frontiers in Social Neuroscience. 10, 165–188.
Harari, H., Shamay-Tsoory, S. G., Ravid, M., & Levkovitz, Y. (2009). Double dissociation between cognitive and affective empathy in borderline personality disorder. Psychiatry Research. 175(3), 277-279.
Hare, R. D. (2003). Manual for the hare psychopathy checklist-revised (2nd Ed.). Toronto: Multi-Health Systems.
Hein, G., & Singer, T. (2008). I feel how you feel but not always: The empathic brain and its modulation. Current Opinions in Neurobiology. 18, 153–158.
Hendriks M. C. P., & Vingerhoets, A. J. J. M. (2006). Social messages of crying faces: their influence on anticipated person perception, emotions and behavioural responses. Cognitive Emotion. 20, 878–886.
Huebner, B., Dwyer, S., & Hauser, M. (2009). The role of emotion in moral psychology. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 13(1), 1–6.
Husman, B. F., & Silva, J. M. (1984). Aggression in sport: Definitional and theoretical 20 considerations. In J. M. Silva, & R. S. Weinberg (Eds.), Psychological foundations of 21 sport (pp. 246-260). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Itier, R. J., & Batty, M. (2009). Neural bases of eye and gaze processing the core of social cognition. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 33(6), 843–863.
Jolliffe, D., & Farrington, D. P. (2006). Development and validation of the Basic Empathy Scale. Journal of Adolescence. 29(4), 589–611.
Kerr, N. A. (2007). Are there personality factors that can undermine moral judgment development?  Masters Theses & Specialist Projects.
Kiehl, K. A. (2006). A cognitive neuroscience perspective on psychopathy: Evidence for paralimbic system dysfunction. Psychiatry Research. 142, 107–128.
Kirchner, J. C., Hatri, A., Heekeren, H. R., & Dziobek, I. (2011). Autistic symptomatology, face processing abilities, and eye fixation patterns. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 41, 158–167.
Kohlberg, L. (1958). The development of models of thinking and choices in years 10 to 16. PhD dissertation. University of Chicago.
Korb, S., Wood, A., Rychlowska, M., & Niedenthal, P. (2016). The perils of boxes and arrows: Reply to Gallese & Caruana. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 7, 79-90.
 Kuypers, K. (2018). Context-dependent emotional empathy in virtual reality. Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal. 5(4), 123-137.
López-Gil, J. M., Virgili-Gomá, J., Gil, R., & García, R. (2016). Method for improving EEG based emotion recognition by combining it with synchronized biometric and eye tracking technologies in a non-invasive and low cost way. Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience. 10, 107-124.
Matarazzo, O., Abbamonte, L., & Nigro, G. (2008). Moral reasoning and behavior in adulthood. International Journal of Psychological and Behavioral Sciences. 2(8), 859-866.
Millon, T. (1969). Disorders of personality DSM-III: Axis II. New York: Wiley.
Millon, T. (1983). Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (Manual). Minneapolis: National Computer Systems, Inc.
Narváez, D. (2008). Handbook of Moral and Character Education (Educational Psychology Handbook) (1st ed.). London: Routledge.
Neufeld, J., Ioannou, C., Korb, S., Schilbach, L., & Chakrabarti, B. (2015). Spontaneous facial mimicry is modulated by joint attention and autistic traits. Autism Research. 9(7), 781–789.
Pervin, L. A. (2001). A dynamic systems approach to personality. European Psychologist. 6(3), 172–176.
Prkachin, K. M. (2011). Facial pain expression. Pain Management. 1, 367–376. doi: 10.2217/pmt.11.22.
Rest, J. R. (1972). Development in judging moral issues. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
Rest, J., Deemer, D., Barnett, R., Spickelmier, J., & Volker, J. (1986). Life experiences and developmental pathways. In J. Rest (Ed.), Moral development: Advances in research and theory (pp. 28–58). New York: Praeger.
Rest, J., Narvaez, D., Thoma, S., & Bebeau, M. (2000). A Neo-Kohlbergian approach to morality research. Journal of Moral Education. 29(4), 381–395. doi:10.1080/713679390. S2CID 15525889
Ritter, K., Dziobek, I., Preissler, S., Rüter, A., Vater, A., Fydrich, T., & Roepke, S. (2011). Lack of empathy in patients with narcissistic personality disorder. Psychiatry Research. 187, 241–247.
Rogers, S., Speelman, C., Guidetti, O., & Longmuir, M. (2018). Using dual eye tracking to uncover personal gaze patterns during social interaction. Scientific Reports. 8(1), 113-132.
Sadock, B. J., Sadock, V. A., & Ruiz, P. (2015). Kaplan & Sadock's synopsis of psychiatry: Behavioral sciences/clinical psychiatry (11th ed.). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.
Schall, A., & Bergstrom, R.J. (2014). The future of eye tracking and user experience. Eye Tracking in User Experience Design. 7, 351–360.
Shamay-Tsoory, S., Harari, H., Szepsenwol, O., & Levkovitz, Y. (2009). Neuropsychological Evidence of Impaired Cognitive Empathy in Euthymic Bipolar Disorder. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences. 21(1), 59–67.
Singer, T., & Lamm, C. (2009). The social neuroscience of empathy. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1156(1), 81–96.
Spencer, C. C. (2013). The effect of psychopathy, empathy and gender on gaze patterns. Master’s thesis. Western Carolina University. Retrieved from:
vanRijn, S., Barendse, M., van Goozen, S., & Swaab, H. (2014). Social attention, affective arousal and empathy in men with klinefelter syndrome (47, xxy): Evidence from eye tracking and skin conductance. PLoS One. 9(1), e84721.
Vaidya, A. R., Jin, C., & Fellows, L. K. (2014). Eye spy: The predictive value of fixation patterns in detecting subtle and extreme emotions from faces. Cognition. 133(2), 443–456.
Wang, H., Chignell, M., & Ishizuka, M. (2006). Empathic tutoring software agents using real-time eye tracking, in ETRA. Journal of Symposium on Eye Tracking Research and Applications (New York, ACM Press), 73–78.
Yan, Z., Pei, M., & Su, Y. (2017). Children’s empathy and their perception and evaluation of facial pain expression: An eye tracking study. Frontiers in Psychology. 8, 75-91.