Cleckley's psychopaths: Revisited

Cristina Crego, Thomas A. Widiger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


The most influential figure in the study of psychopathy is Hervey Cleckley, the author of the widely cited text, "The Mask of Sanity" (Cleckley, 1941, 1955). Researchers often refer to Cleckley when disputing what should belong within a conceptualization or assessment of psychopathy, at times disagreeing as to what Cleckley meant or intended. Cleckley though included within his text 15 detailed case studies of prototypic psychopaths. The current study was the first to provide systematic ratings of these 15 cases, including ratings with respect to (a) the 16 Cleckley criteria (e.g., anxiousness and inadequately motivated antisocial behavior), (b) 33 additional traits included within or considered for more recently developed measures and models of psychopathy (e.g., boldness, fearlessness, disobliged, cruelty, and aggression), and (c) 30 traits of the 5-factor model of general personality. The results are discussed with respect to implications for both historic and current models of psychopathy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-87
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 American Psychological Association.


  • Cleckley
  • Personality traits
  • Psychopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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