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J Forensic Sci. 2017 Sep;62(5):1360-1365. doi: 10.1111/1556-4029.13469. Epub 2017 Feb 15.

Preliminary Study of Testosterone and Empathy in Determining Recidivism and Antisocial Behavior.

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Department of Psychiatry, Arkansas State Hospital/University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, 305 South Palm, Attn: Forensic Administration, Little Rock, AR, 72205.
Department of Criminal Justice, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, 2801 South University Ave, Little Rock, AR, 72204.
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, 1364 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA, 30322.
Departments of Psychiatry, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Pediatrics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, 4301 West Markham, Little Rock, AR, 72205.


Recidivism, repeated criminal behavior after conviction and correction of prior offenses, is a costly problem across the nation. However, the contribution of empathy in determining the risk of recidivism has received limited attention, although lack of empathy has been related to antisocial personality disorder in various studies. Studies linked testosterone to aggression, antisocial behavior, and criminality, and evidence support hormonal connections between empathy and aggression. Adult male prison inmates convicted of violent or nonviolent offenses were included in a cross-sectional study of empathy, antisocial behavior, salivary testosterone, and recidivism. Subjects underwent criminal history, Empathy Quotient, Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scale, Beck Depression Inventory, Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and salivary testosterone assays. Bivariate analyses indicated multiple correlations between variables. Multivariate modeling analyses found a significant relationship between self-reported conviction number and psychopathy scale score (p = 0.013). These preliminary results suggest avenues of investigation of factors contributing to recidivism risk.


antisocial personality disorder; criminals; empathy; forensic science; psychiatry; testosterone

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