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Psychopathic Personality in the General Population: Differences and Similarities Across Gender

Published Online:https://doi.org/10.1521/pedi_2016_30_237

This study aimed to identify distinct subgroups of adults in a general population sample (N = 2,500; 52.6% females) based on their scores on three psychopathy dimensions. Using latent profile analysis, five groups were identified among males and females separately, including a psychopathic personality group. Multivariate analyses of variance showed that this latter group had higher levels of aggression, offending, substance use, attention-deficit/hyperactivity symptoms, internalizing problems, and maltreatment than most of the other groups. Associated features of males and females with a psychopathic personality were very similar; however, salient gender differences did emerge. Specifically, females with a psychopathic personality were more frequently exposed to sexual abuse, expressed more emotional difficulties, and engaged in higher levels of relational aggression. In conclusion, person-oriented analyses identified adults with a personality that looks like psychopathy, and furthered our understanding of gender similarities and differences in these adults.