Crime and Personality: Personality Theory and Criminality Examined

By Joan A. Reid
2011, Vol. 3 No. 01 | pg. 4/4 |

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.).