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Int J Law Psychiatry. 2014 May-Jun;37(3):238-44. doi: 10.1016/j.ijlp.2013.11.018. Epub 2013 Dec 2.

Psychopathy, intelligence, and impulsivity in German violent offenders.

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Department for Forensic Psychiatry, University Hospital of Psychiatry, Zurich, Switzerland. Electronic address:
Department for Forensic Psychiatry, University Hospital of Psychiatry, Zurich, Switzerland.


Previous studies have reported numerous correlations between psychopathy and various personality traits, behavioural tendencies or clinical characteristics. The present study examined in greater depth the relationships between the components of psychopathy as measured by the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) and intelligence as well as impulsivity. A total of ninety male violent offenders were recruited from a prison and a forensic-psychiatric hospital in Germany. All of the subjects were assessed using the PCL-R, the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11), and a short version of the German Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WIP). As expected, a canonical correlation analysis showed a negative association between spatial intelligence and the Factor 2 subtotal on the PCL-R (reckless lifestyle/antisociality). In addition, our results agreed with the assumption of an association between impulsivity and the subtotal for PCL-R Factor 2. The positive relationship between verbal intelligence and the subtotal for Factor 1 of the PCL-R (insincere, manipulative conduct/affective deficits) vanished after controlling for educational level. The results indicate that there is a relationship between the spatial components of intelligence and the concept of psychopathy as described by Hare. This result supports the spatial impairment aetiological model of antisocial behaviour.


Impulsivity; Intelligence; Offender; Psychopathy; Violent

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