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Int J Law Psychiatry. 2009 Mar-Apr;32(2):65-73. doi: 10.1016/j.ijlp.2009.01.002. Epub 2009 Feb 24.

Prevalence and correlates of psychopathic traits in the household population of Great Britain.

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  • 1Barts and the London Medical School, Queen Mary University of London, Forensic Psychiatry Research Unit, London, United Kingdom. j.w.coid@qmul.ac.uk

Abstract

There are no previous surveys of psychopathy and psychopathic traits in representative general population samples using standardized instruments. This study aimed to measure prevalence and correlates of psychopathic traits, based on a two-phase survey using the Psychopathy Checklist: Screening Version (PCL: SV) in 638 individuals, 16-74 years, in households in England, Wales and Scotland. The weighted prevalence of psychopathy was 0.6% (95% CI: 0.2-1.6) at a cut score of 13, similar to the noncriminal/nonpsychiatric sample described in the manual of the PCL: SV. Psychopathy scores correlated with: younger age, male gender; suicide attempts, violent behavior, imprisonment and homelessness; drug dependence; histrionic, borderline and adult antisocial personality disorders; panic and obsessive-compulsive disorders. This survey demonstrated that, as measured by the PCL: SV, psychopathy is rare, affecting less than 1% of the household population, although it is prevalent among prisoners, homeless persons, and psychiatric admissions. There is a half-normal distribution of psychopathic traits in the general population, with the majority having no traits, a significant proportion with non-zero values, and a severe subgroup of persons with multiple associated social and behavioral problems. This distribution has implications for research into the etiology of psychopathy and its implications for society.

PMID:
19243821
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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