Social desirability, deceptive reporting, and awareness of problematic aggression in intermittent explosive disorder compared with non-aggressive healthy and psychiatric controls [2018]

• Individuals with impulsive aggressive behavior are suspected of not being forthcoming about their behavior.

• While this may be the case for those not seeking assistance for IED, the authors found that this is not true for individuals with IED in clinical research settings.

• In this study, IED participants reported significantly less social desirability, less deceptive reporting, and greater awareness of their need for treatment compared with controls.

• Individuals with IED who seek assistance to reduce impulsive aggressive behavior are, likely, quite candid about their symptomatology.

Individuals with DSM-5 Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED) are often suspected of minimizing the nature of their recurrent, problematic, impulsive aggressive behavior due to the social undesirability of these behaviors. Our first study involved 400 study participants categorized as Healthy Controls (HC), Psychiatric Controls (PC) and as having IED and included the Crowne-Marlowe Social Desirability Scale (SDS), the Lie Scale from the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire-Revised (EPQ-R Lie), and the Readiness to Change (Anger) Questionnaire (RTC). IED study participants had lower SDS and lower EPQ-R Lie scores, while having higher RTC scores, compared with both HC and PC study participants. Thus, when studied in a clinical research setting, IED study participants do not provide socially desirable answers to questions and do not engaging in deceptive reporting; likely because they have recognized their need/interest in reducing their own impulsive aggressive behavior. The second study, part of a family study of 70 probands and their first-degree relatives revealed a very high positive (96.3%), but substantially lower negative (55.8%), predictive power for IED based on informant report. This suggests that, while interview of close informants can confirm the diagnosis of IED, informant interviews cannot rule out IED when such informants provide a negative report.

Diana M. Steakley-Freeman, Royce J. Lee, Michael S. McCloskey, Emil F. Coccaro

Psychiatry Research, Volume 270, December 2018