When the term “psychopath” is mentioned, a number of famous fictional figures spring to mind - Patrick Bateman, Freddy Krueger and Dexter Morgan to name a few.
While many may assume that the main attributes of a psychopath’s personality would be universal, new research has discovered that they do seem to vary across different cultures.
A team of researchers led by Bruno Verschuere, associate professor of forensic psychology at the University of Amsterdam, carried out a study of 7,450 individuals exhibiting psychopathic characteristics in the US and the Netherlands.
They used the Psychopathy Checklist-revised (PCL-R) to examine the participants.
The Psychopathy Checklist was first devised in the 1970s by Canadian psychologist Robert D. Hare.
The most updated version of the psychological assessment tool, the PCL-R, consists of 20 items that denote the personality traits and recorded behaviours typically associated with a psychopath.
The PCL-R is implemented by mental health professionals. The results are then used to determine whether psychopathic individuals are likely to commit criminal offences and if they can be rehabilitated.
Some of the qualities considered include selfishness, callousness and antisocial behaviour.
The researchers analysed two large samples in the US - one from the National Institute of Mental Health and the second from Wisconsin.
Callousness or lack of empathy was the main item noted from the PCL-R in both of the US samples.
However, the results differed when the team examined the Dutch sample.
While callousness or lack of empathy was still recorded as being a predominant characteristic among the psychopathic individuals, irresponsibility and a parasitic lifestyle was even more so.
The researchers believe that this demonstrates how personality traits exhibited by psychopaths could be indicative of where they’re from.
“The findings raise the important possibility of cross-cultural differences in the phenotypic structure psychopathy, PCL-R measurement variance, or both,” they wrote.
“Network analyses may help elucidate the core characteristics of psychopathological constructs, including psychopathy, as well as provide a new tool for assessing measurement invariance across cultures.”
According to a recent study, around one in five corporate bosses display clinically significant psychopathic traits.
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