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Personal Disord. 2012 Jul;3(3):247-62. doi: 10.1037/a0025945. Epub 2012 Jan 23.

Gender and factor-level interactions in psychopathy: implications for self-directed violence risk and borderline personality disorder symptoms.

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Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, 61820, USA.


Women with antisocial and psychopathic traits have a more extensive history of self-directed violence, as well as borderline personality disorder (BPD) symptoms, than their male counterparts (Chapman, Specht, & Cellucci, 2005; Warren et al., 2003). To inform this area of research, we examined gender differences in the relationship between psychopathy factors and risk for self-directed violence, as measured by a history of suicidal ideation, self-harm, and suicide attempts, across 2 studies. In both studies, we found that the interaction of the interpersonal-affective (Factor 1) and impulsive-antisocial traits (Factor 2) of psychopathy, a combination considered to exemplify high psychopathy, was associated with ideation, self-harm, and suicide attempt histories specifically in women. In men, Factor 2 traits were associated with these risk indices for self-directed violence, regardless of Factor 1. In Study 2, we extended our analysis to examine whether BPD accounted for the relationship between psychopathy and self-directed violence differentially in women and men. Results suggested that BPD symptoms partially accounted for the effects of Factor 2 on self-directed violence (both self-harm and attempts) in both genders but fully accounted for Factor 1 protective effects only in men. These findings underscore the notion that the same psychopathic trait liabilities, at least as they are currently assessed, may confer risk for different forms of behavioral maladjustment in women versus men.

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