Crime and Personality: Personality Theory and Criminality Examined

By Joan A. Reid
2011, Vol. 3 No. 01 | pg. 3/3 |

Future Directions for Personality Theory and Criminological Research

As mentioned, Gottfredson and Hirschi’s (1990) self-control theory shares strong conceptual links to personality theory (Farrington, 2002; Miller & Lynam, 2001). However, other avenues of integration of personality with criminological theory could also be useful. For example, Agnew’s (1992) General Strain Theory (GST) focuses on personal pressures arising from the environment that align with individual conditioning factors to press a person toward crime. Life strains by causing, influencing, and interacting with negative emotions, aggressive personality traits, and criminogenic social learning are predicted to result in dysfunctional coping, such as delinquent behaviors (Agnew, 1992, 2001, 2002, 2006). Agnew (1992, 2001) predicted crime is more likely when goal blockage is perceived as unjust and when the gap between goals and achievements is high in magnitude and the resulting “anger and frustration energize the individual for action, lower inhibitions, and create a desire for revenge” (Agnew, Piquero & Cullen, 2009, p. 41). From this brief overview of GST, it is evident that there exists the potential for research regarding the interaction of certain strains with personality traits, such as agreeableness and conscientiousness (see Table 1). Agnew, Brezina, Wright, and Cullen (2002) explored this connection, finding that those high in negative emotionality and low in restraint were more likely to react to strain with delinquency, but not all research has found this moderating relationship (Wareham, 2005). A recent study found that situational emotionality affected the relationship between strain and delinquency rather than trait-based negative emotionality; so further research is warranted (Moon, Morash, McCluskey, & Hwang, 2009).

Routine activity theory (Cohen & Felson, 1979) is classified as a criminal opportunity theory with concepts that emphasize victim risk, specifically risk created by proximity to crime and target suitability. Related to target suitability, behavioral scientists have proposed that socially rejected youth are most likely to be the victims of teasing, bullying, and hazing by their peers (MacNeil, 2002; Vitaro, Boivin, & Tremblay, 2007), with victims of one of these forms of peer abuse often experiencing several (Thompson, Grace, & Cohen, 2001). Some researchers have recently asserted that, for some youth, victimization is a “condition” rather than an event (Finkelhor, Ormrod, Turner, & Hamby, 2005, p. 20; see also Perry, Hodges, & Egan, 2001, Solomon & Heide, 1999). These youth do not experience only one or several separate incidents of victimizations, but endure repeated and multiple victimizations, as if repeat victims comprise their own crime “hot spot” (Menard & Huizinga, 2001; Pease & Laycock, 1996). Commenting on their findings regarding family characteristics that affect vulnerability to violent juvenile victimization, Schreck and Fisher (2004) concluded that there is a possibility that vulnerability to crime is a “time-stable personal trait” predetermined by family socialization (p. 1035). Additionally, in a survey of serial rapists, 69 percent identified vulnerability as the strongest reason to attack a female; youth, helpfulness, easy compliance, those exhibiting “a learned helplessness” were characteristics of vulnerable targets (Stevens, 1998, p. 55). From such research findings, it is evident that there is potential for further investigation into the function of personality traits, even a positive trait such as agreeableness, and their possible interactions with target suitability and victim risk. 4

And lastly, focusing on the dysfunctional individual trait of psychopathy (Hare, 1993), research has yet to fully explore if particular types of crimes may be more conducive to psychopaths by interacting with their interpersonal and behavioral traits. In other words, do certain dysfunctional personality traits draw psychopathic criminals to certain types of offending and facilitate their success? For example, only one study has explored the trait of psychopathy in pimps or sex traffickers, although these offenders demonstrate the “unique set of interpersonal, affective, and lifestyle characteristics (e.g., superficial charm, shallow affect, lack of empathy, manipulativeness, parasitic) typical of psychopathic offenders” (Spidel et al., 2007, p. 163). Babiak and Hare (2007) hypothesized that qualities of psychopaths may facilitate their success in white-collar crime: possessing charm and social manipulation they succeed at job interviews, possessing attributes that are easily mistaken as leadership ability they are quickly promoted, and the changing business environment has led to a need for confident risk takers to implement ruthless personnel changes that fits with the psychopath’s insensitivity, callous disregard for others, and grandiosity. Exploring this interaction could provide beneficial information on likely crime targets or environments that best facilitate or attract psychopaths.

This review of the chronicles of personality theory in criminology, its current status, and future prospects, reveals that criminology has much to gain from personality theory. Past criticisms regarding debatable deterministic predispositions and weak research methodologies have been sufficiently overcome and cutting-edge technologies available to researchers offer new opportunities to investigate the role of individual traits in offending, recidivism, and even victimization toward the goal of reducing crime and its harmful effects. The study of traits may elucidate why certain individual react to life strain by offending, why particular individuals are targets of crime, and why psychopathic offenders choose particular avenues of crime.


Akers, R. L., & Sellers, C. S. (2009). Criminological theories: Introduction, evaluation, and application. New York: Oxford University Press.

Agnew, R. (1992). Foundation for a general strain theory of crime and delinquency. Criminology, 30, 47-87.

Agnew, R. (2001). Building on the foundation of general strain theory: Specifying the types of strain most likely to lead to crime and delinquency. Journal of Research on Crime and Delinquency, 38, 319-361.r

Agnew, R. (2002). Experienced, vicarious, and anticipated strain: An exploratory study on physical victimization and delinquency. Justice Quarterly 19, 603-632.

Agnew. R. (2006). Pressured into crime: An overview of general strain theory. Los Angeles: Roxbury Publishing.

Agnew, R., Brezina, T.,Wright, J. P., & Cullen, F. T. (2002). Strain, personality traits, and delinquency: Extending general strain theory. Criminology, 40(1), 43-72.

Agnew, R., Piquero, N. L., & Cullen, F. T. (2009). General strain theory and white-collar crime. In S. S. Simpson, & D. Weisburd (Eds), The criminology of white-collar crime (pp. 35-60). New York: Springer Publishing.

American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.) Text Revision. Washington, DC: Author.

Andrews, D. A., & Wormith, J. S. (1989). Personality and crime: Knowledge destruction and construction in criminology. Justice Quarterly, 6, 289-309.

Appelbaum, P. S. (2005). Dangerous severe personality disorders: England’s experiment in using psychiatry for public protection. Law & Psychiatry, 56, 397-399.

Babiak, P., & Hare, R. D. (2007). Snakes in suits: When psychopaths go to work. New York: HarperCollins Publisher.

Barlow, H. (1990). Introduction to criminology (5th ed.). Glenview: IL: Scott Foresman.

Bartol, C. R. (1991). Criminal behavior: A psychological approach. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Bartol, C. R., & Bartol, A. M. (2004). Psychology and law: Theory, research, and application. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Blickle, G., Schlegel, A., Fassbender, P., & Klein, U. (2006). Some personality correlates of business white-collar crime. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 55, 220-233.

Boney-McCoy, S., & Finkelhor, D. (1995). Prior victimization: A risk factor for child sexual abuse and PTSD-related symptomology among sexually abused youth. Child Abuse and Neglect, 19, 1401-1421.

Brown, S. (2006). The criminology of hybrids: Rethinking crime and law in technosocial networks. Theoretical Criminology, 10, 223-244.

Cantor, D., & Lynch, J. (2000). Self-report surveys as measures of crime and criminal victimization. In Duffee, D. (Ed.), Measurement and Analysis of Crime and Justice (pp. 85-138). Washington, DC: US Department of Justice.

Caspi. A., Lynam, D. R., Moffitt, T. E., & Silva, P. (1993) Unraveling girls’ delinquency: Biological, dispositional, and contextual contributions to adolescent misbehavior. Developmental Psychology, 29, 19-30.

Caspi, A., Moffitt, T. E., Silva, P. A., Loeber, M. S., Krueger, R. F., & Schmutte, P. S. (1994). Are some people crime prone? Replications of the personality crime relationship across countries, genders, races, and methods. Criminology, 32, 163-196.

Cleckly, H. (1976). The mask of sanity (5th ed.). St Louis, MO: Mosby.

Cloninger. C. R., Dragan M. S., and Thomas R. P. (1993) A psychobiological model of temperament and character. Archives of General Psychiatry 50, 975-990.

Cohen, L. E., & Felson, M. (1979). Social change and crime rate trends: A routine activity approach. American Sociological Review, 44, 588-608.

Craig, M. C., Cantani, M., Deeley, Q., Latham, R., Daly, E., Kanaan, R. et al. (2009). Altered connections on the road to psychopathy. Molecular Psychiatry, advanced online publication June 9, 2009, 1-8.

Eme, R. (2008). Male life-course persistent antisocial behavior: A review of neurodevelopmental factors. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 14, 348-358.

Eysenck, H. J. (1977). Crime and personality. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Eysenck, H. J. (1997). Personality and the biosocial model of antisocial and criminal behavior. In A. Raine, P. A. Brennan, D. P. Farrington, & S. A. Mednick (Eds.), Biosocial bases of violence. New York: Plenum.

Eysenck, H. J. (2003). Personality and the problem of criminality. In E. McLaughlin, J. Muncie, & G. Hughes (Eds.), Criminological perspectives: Essential readings (2nd ed., pp. 91-109). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Farrington, D. P. (1992). Juvenile delinquency. In J. C. Coleman (Ed.), The school years (2nd ed., pp. 123-163) London: Routledge.

Farrington, D. P. (2002). Crime causation: Psychological theories. In J. Dessler (Ed.), Encyclopedia of crime and justice, vol. 1 (2nd ed., pp. 315-324). New York: Macmillan.

Farrington D. P., & Jolliffe, D. (2004). Personality and crime. In N. J. Smelser, & P. B. Balters (Eds.), International encyclopedia of the social & behavioral sciences (pp. 11260-11264). Amsterdam: Elsvier Publications.

Farrington, D., Ohlin, L., & West, D. J. (1986). Understanding and controlling crime. New York: Springer-Verlag.

Feeney, A. (2003). Dangerous severe personality disorder. Advances in psychiatric treatment, 9, 349-353.

Finkelhor, D., Ormrod, R., Turner, H. A., & Hamby, S. L. (2005). The victimization of children and youth: A comprehensive, national survey. Child Maltreatment, 10, 2-25.

Fishbein, D. (2001). Biobehavioral perspectives in criminology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Forsythe, B. (1995). The Garland thesis and the origins of modern English prison discipline: 1835 to 1939. Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 34, 259-273.

Garland, D. (1997). Of crimes and criminals: The of criminology in Britain. In M. Maguire, M. Morgan, and R. Reiner (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (2nd ed). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Geerken, M. (1994). Rap sheets in criminological research: considerations and caveats. Journal of Quantitative Criminology 10, 3-21.

Gibbons, D. C. (1986). Breaking out of prisons. Crime and Delinquency 32, 503-514.

Gibbons, D. C. (1989). Comment – Personality and crime: Non-issues, real issues, and a theory and research agenda. Justice Quarterly, 6, 311- 323.

Glicksohn, J. (2002). The neurobiology of criminal behavior. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Gottfredson, M. R. (2006). The empirical status of control theory in criminology. In F. T. Cullen, J. P. Wight, & K. R. Blevins (Eds.), Advances in criminological theory, vol. 15: Taking stock: The status of criminological theory (pp. 205-230). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.

Gottfredson, M. R. (2007). Self-control theory and criminal . In D. J. Flannery, A. T. Vazsonyi, & I. D. Waldman (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of violent behavior and aggression (pp. 533-544). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Gottfredson, M. R., & Hirschi, T. (1990). A general theory of crime. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Hare, R. D. (1993). Without conscience: The disturbing world of psychopaths among us. New York: Guilford Press.

Hare, R. D. (1996). Psychopathy: A clinical construct whose time has come. Criminal justice and behavior, 23, 25-54.

Hemphill, J. F., Hare, R. D., Wong, S. (1998). Psychopathy and recidivism: A review. Legal and Criminological Psychology, Vol. 3 (Part 1), pp. 139-170.

Herba, C. M, Hodgins, S., Blackwood, N., Kumari, V., Naudts, K. H., & Phillips, M. (2007). The neurobiology of psychopathy: A focus on emotion processing. In H. Hervé, & J. C. Yuille (Eds.), The psychopath: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 253- 286). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Hervé, H. (2007). Psychopathy across the ages: A history of the Hare Psychopath. In H. Hervé & Yuille, J. C. (Eds.), The psychopath: Theory, research and practice (pp. 31-55). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.

Hirschi, T. & Hindelang, M. J. (1977). Intelligence and delinquency: A revisionist review. American Sociological Review 42, 571-587.

Huizinga, D., & Elliott, D. (1986). Reassessing the reliability and validity of self-report delinquency measures. Journal of Quantitative Criminology 2, 293-327.

Jolliffe, D. & Farrington, D. P. (2004). Empathy and offending: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Aggression & Violent Behavior, 9, 441 – 476.

Jones, D. W. (2008). Understanding criminal behavior: Psychological approaches to criminality. Portland: Willan Publishing.

La Fond, J. Q., & Durham, M. (1992). Back to the asylum: The future of mental health law and policy in the . New York: Oxford University Press.

Laub, J. H. and Sampson, R. J. (1991). The Sutherland–Glueck debate: On the sociology of criminological knowledge. The American Journal of Sociology 96, 1402-1440.

Lovett, B. J., & Sheffield, R. A. (2007). Affective empathy deficits in aggressive children and adolescents: A critical review. Clinical Psychology Review, 27, 1-13.

Lynam, D. R., Caspi, A., Moffitt, T. E., Wikstrom, P., Loeber, R., & Novak, S. P. (2000). The interaction between impulsivity and neighborhood context on offending: The effects of impulsivity are stronger in poorer neighborhoods. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 10(9), 563-574.

McCrae, R. R., & Costa, P. T. (1990). Personality in adulthood. New York: Guilford Press.

MacNeil, G. (2002). School bullying: An overview. In L. A. Rapp-Paglicci, A. R. Roberts, & J. S. Wodarski (Eds.), Handbook of violence (pp. 247–261). New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Melton, G. B., Petrila, J., Poythress, N. G., & Slobogin, C. (2007). Psychological evaluations for the courts: A handbook for mental health professionals and lawyers (3rd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.

Menard, S., & Huizinga, D. (2001). Repeat victimization in a high-risk neighborhood sample of adolescents. Youth and Society, 32, 447-472.

Miller, J. D., & Lynam, D. (2001). Structural models of personality and their relation to antisocial behavior: A meta-analytic review. Criminology, 39, 765-798.

Moffitt, T. E. (1990). The neuropsychology of juvenile delinquency: A Critical Review. In M. Tonry, & N. Morris (Eds.), Crime and Justice, vol. 12 (pp. 99-169). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Moffitt, T. E. (1993). Adolescence-limited and life-course-persistent antisocial behavior: A developmental taxonomy. Psychological Review, 100, 674–701.

Moffitt, T. E. (2006). Pathways in the life course to crime. In F. T. Cullen, & R. Agnew (Eds.), Criminological theory: Past to present (pp. 502-521). Los Angeles: Roxbury Publishing.

Moffitt, T. E. (2007). Life-course-persistent vs. adolescence-limited antisocial behavior. In D. Cicchetti, & D. J. Cohen (Eds.), Developmental psychopathology (2nd ed., pp. 570-598). Hoboken, NJ; Wiley and Sons.

Moffitt, T. E., Caspi, A. Rutter, M., Silva, P. A. (2001). Sex differences in antisocial behavior: Conduct disorder, delinquency, and violence in the Dunedin longitudinal study. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Moon, B., Morash, M., McCluskey, C. P., & Hwang, Hye-Won (2009). A comprehensive test of general strain theory. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 46, 182-212.

Quetelet, A. (2003). Of the development of the propensity to crime. In E. McLaughlin, J. Muncie, J., & G. Hughes (Eds.), Criminological perspectives: Essential readings (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Pease, K., & Laycock, G. (1996). Revictimization: Reducing the heat on hot victims (NCJ Publication No.162951). Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice.

Perry, D. G., Hodges, E. V. E., & Egan, S. K. (2001). Determinants of chronic victimization by peers: A review and new model of family influence. In J. Juvonen, & S. Graham (Eds.), Peer harassment in school: The plight of the vulnerable and victimized (pp. 73–104). New York: Guilford Press.

Porter, S., & Woodworth, M. (2006). Psychopathy and aggression. In C. Patrick (Ed.), Handbook of psychopathy (pp. 481-494). New York: Guilford.

Pratt, T. C. (2009). Reconsidering Gottfredson and Hirschi’s General theory of crime: Linking the micro- and macro-level sources of self-control and criminal behavior over the life course. In J. Savage (Ed.), The development of persistent criminality (pp. 361-373). New York: Oxford University Press.

Pratt, T. C. & Cullen, F. T. (2000). The empirical status of Gottfredson and Hirschi’s General theory of crime. Criminology, 38, 931-964.

Rafter, N. (2004). The unrepentant horse-slayer: Moral insanity and the origins of criminal thought. Criminology, 42, 979-1008.

Rafter, N. (2006). H. J. Eysenck in Fagin’s kitchen: The return to biological theory in 20th century criminology. History of the Human Sciences, 19, 37-56.

Roberts, B. W. (2009). Back to the future: Personality and assessment and personality development. Journal of Research in Personality, 43, 137-145.

Salekin, R. T., Rogers, R., Sewell, K. W. (1995). A review and mete-analysis of the Psychopathy Checklist and the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised: Predictive validity of dangerousness. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 2, 203-215.

Seddon, T. (2008). Dangerous liaisons: Personality disorder and the of risk. Punishment and Society, 10, 301-317.

Schreck, C. J., & Fisher, B. S. (2004). Specifying the influence of family and peers on violent victimization: Extending routine and lifestyles theories. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 19, 1021-1041.

Solomon, E. P., & Heide, K. M. (1999). Type III trauma: Toward a more effective conceptualization of psychological trauma. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 43, 202-210.

Spidel, A., Greaves, C., Cooper, B. S, Hervé, H. F., Hare, R. D., & Yuille, J. C. (2007). The psychopath as pimp. Canadian Journal of Police and Security Services, 4, 205-211.

Stevens, D. J. (1998). Inside the mind of a serial rapist. Bethesda, MD: Austin & Winfield.

Tannenbaum, F. (1938). Crime and the community. New York: Columbia University Press.

Tellegen, A. (1985). Structures of mood and personality and their relevance to assessing anxiety with an emphasis on self-report. In A. H. Tuma and J. D. Maser (Eds.), Anxiety and the Anxiety Disorders. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Thompson, M., Grace, C. O., & Cohen, L. J. (2001). Best friends, worst enemies: Understanding the social lives of children. Ballentine Books: New York.

Thornberry, T., & Krohn, M. (2000). The self report method for measuring delinquency and crime. In Duffee, D. (Ed.), Measurement and analysis of crime and justice (pp. 33-84). Washington, DC: US Department of Justice.

Varker, T., Devilly, G. J., Ward, T., & Beech, A. R. (2008). Empathy and adolescent sexual offenders: A review of the literature. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 13, 251-260.

Vitaro, F., Boivin, M., & Tremblay, R. E. (2007). Peers and violence: A two-sided developmental perspective. In D. J. Flannery, A. T. Vazsonyi, & I. D. Waldman (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of violent behavior and aggression (pp. 361-387). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Wareham, J. J. (2005). Strain, personality traits, and deviance among adolescents: Moderating factors. (Doctoral dissertation, University of South Florida, 2005). USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations, HV6025.

Webster, C. D., & Hucker, S. J. (2007). Violence Risk: Assessment and management. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

White, J. L., Moffitt, T. E., Caspi, A., Bartusch, D. J., Needles, D. J., Stouthamer-Loeber, M. (1994). Measuring Impulsivity and Examining its Relationship to Delinquency. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 103, 192–205.

Yang, Y., Raine, A., Colletti, P., Toga, A. W., & Narr, K. L. (2009). Abnormal temporal and prefrontal cortical gray matter thinning in psychopaths. Molecular Psychiatry, 14, 561-562.


1 Often theorists chose to use the term antisocial behavior rather than criminality due to crime being a legal concept, which may change depending on the environment or historical period (Fishbein, 2001).

2 In the nineteenth century, several psychiatrists and physicians in Europe and in the United States began to independently describe a similar condition. Each one labeled the condition differently, naming it madness without delirium, moral derangement, moral insanity, or psychopathy (Hervé, 2007; Glicksohn, 2002; Rafter, 2004). These terms were used to depict a personality disorder or clinically observed syndrome describing emotionally disturbed but intellectually intact persons who engaged in antisocial or violent behaviors. An American psychologist, Partridge, was the first to narrowly define and describe psychopathy as a particular personality disorder rather than a typology of disorders with diverse subtypes (Hervé, 2007). Due to the former confusion surrounding the term psychopath, Partridge replaced the older term with a new term, sociopath, to be identified with his more specific concept (Hervé, 2007). The contemporary concept of psychopathy can be attributed to Hervey Cleckly (1976), a psychiatrist who treated criminal offenders (Hervé, 2007). Today, Robert Hare is leader of the study of psychopathy and he refined Cleckly’s list of traits and definitions and created a measure of psychopathy, the Psychopathy Checklist (PCL) (Hare, 1996). Unlike other instruments used to measure personality, the PCL cannot be self-administered but must be administered by a trained interviewer who asks a series of questions to determine whether a person exhibits the traits of psychopathy.

3 Moffitt (1993) asserts that there are two types of offenders: (1) a larger group of adolescence-limited offenders, with delinquent or antisocial behavior that begins and ends during adolescence and (2) a smaller group of offenders, with antisocial behavior that begins in childhood and continues into adulthood, labeled life-course-persistent offenders.

4 A reluctance to imply that victims may affect their own risk for victimization could obstruct research into understanding such a condition, yet, as Boney-McCoy and Finkelhor (1995) stated, “If research reveals that certain personal characteristics put children at increased risk for victimization, it would be irresponsible for researchers to demur from discussing these findings in the name of not ‘blaming the victim’” (p. 1416).

Table 1. Personality Models and Dimensions

Five-Factor Model


Emotional stability and adjustment versus instability and maladjustment


Sociability and agency

Openness to Experience

Interest and willingness to try or consider new activities, ideas, beliefs; intellectual curiosity


Interpersonal strategies: Agreeableness versus Antagonism


Ability to control impulses, carry out plans and tasks, organizational

skills, follow one’s internal moral code



Egocentricity, interpersonal coldness and disconnectedness, lack of empathy, and impulsiveness


Sociability and agency


Emotional stability and adjustment versus instability and maladjustment


Positive Emotionality

Sociability, tendency to experience positive emotions, assertiveness,

achievement orientation

Negative Emotionality

Tendency to experience negative emotions; one’s ability to

handle stress


Ability to control impulses, avoid potentially dangerous situations, and endorse traditional values and standards


Novelty Seeking

Tendency toward intense exhilaration or excitement in response to novel stimuli

Harm Avoidance

Tendency to respond intensely to aversive stimuli

Reward Dependence

Tendency to respond intensely to signals of reward


Perseverance despite frustration and fatigue


Self-determination and willpower


Tendency to be agreeable versus antagonistic and hostile


Involvement with spirituality

Source: Miller, J. D., & Lynam, D. (2001). Structural models of personality and their relation to antisocial behavior: A meta-analytic review. Criminology, 39, p. 769

Table 2: Psychopathy Verses Antisocial Personality Disorder

Hare Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R)

Emotional/Interpersonal Traits

Glibness/superficial charm

Grandiose sense of self-worth

Need for stimulation/prone to boredom


Lack of remorse of guilt

Shallow affect

Callous/lack of empathy

Lack of realistic, long-term goals

Failure to accept responsibility for own actions

Pathological lying

Social deviance

Many short-term marital relationships

Juvenile delinquency

Criminal versatility

Promiscuous sexual relations

Poor behavioral controls

Parasitic lifestyle

Early behavior problems



Revocation of conditional release

Note: Items scored on a scale of 0-2 by a trained interviewer

(0 = not applicable, 1 = uncertain, 2 = definitely present)

DSM-IV Diagnostic Criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder

A. There is a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three (or more) of the following:

  1. Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest
  2. Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure
  3. Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
  4. Irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults
  5. Reckless disregard for safety of self or others
  6. Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations
  7. Lack of remorse as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another

B. The individual is at least age 18 years.

C. There is evidence of conduct disorder with onset before age 15 years.

Sources: Robert D. Hare (1993). Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of Psychopaths Among Us. American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.).

Suggested Reading from StudentPulse

Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), also known as dyssocial personality disorder, is a mental illness that is characterized by a reckless disregard for social norms, impulsive behaviour, an inability to experience guilt, and a low tolerance for frustration. Individuals with ASPD exhibit an inflated sense of self-worth and possess... MORE»
In Ireland, there are currently three forms of insanity: the insanity defence under Section 5, the defence of diminished responsibility under Section 6 and, finally, the unfit to be tried plea under Section 4. The purpose of raising the defence of insanity under Section 5 is to seek an exemption from criminal liability, based on the absence of mens rea, while the purpose of the partial defence of diminished responsibility under Section... MORE»
Since the beginning of criminological research there has been an ongoing debate on the correlation between genetic characteristics and criminal behavior. There have been numerous studies and experiments conducted to help eliminate some of the unknowns related to the field of biological criminology and genetics. Genetic mutations have been disregarded as a consideration when developing guidelines for the causes of criminal behavior and determining... MORE»
This report examines the outcomes on various domains of development (cognitive, social emotional) of children with attachment disorders as well as internal working models of attachment, conditions of insecure attachment, information regarding Reactive Attachment Disorder, and implications of early attachment experiences on adult... MORE»
This paper entails a description of factors related to diagnosis and treatment of Dissociative Identity Disorder. Epidemiology, including risk factors and sociocultural aspects of the disorder are presented, along with recommendations for treatment. Highlights of current research focusing on neurobiological and psychobiological... MORE»
Submit to Student Pulse, Get a Decision in 10-Days

Student Pulse provides undergraduate and graduate students around the world a platform for the wide dissemination of academic work over a range of core disciplines.

Representing the work of students from hundreds of institutions around the globe, Student Pulse's large database of academic articles is completely free. Learn more | Blog | Submit

Follow SP