The characteristics of non-criminals with high psychopathy traits

Are they similar to criminal psychopaths?

Mehmet K. Mahmut*, Judi Homewood, Richard J. Stevenson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

94 Citations (Scopus)


This study compared the findings from a sample of non-criminals with high and low psychopathy levels to published findings with criminal psychopaths and non-psychopaths. Congruent to findings with criminal psychopaths, participants with high psychopathy traits (High-P) compared to those with low psychopathy traits (Low-P) performed significantly worse on the Iowa Gambling Task, a task sensitive to orbital frontal cortex dysfunction. Moreover, the High-P group also evidenced a lack of empathy, a hallmark feature of psychopathy. These findings could not be explained by differences in estimated IQ or performance on a task sensitive to an executive functioning deficit. The discussion focuses on possible differences between non-criminal and criminal psychopaths, concluding criminal psychopaths manifest more extreme degrees of the interpersonal-affective and antisocial features of psychopathy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)679-692
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008

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