The search for the successful psychopath

Stephanie N. Mullins-Sweatt, Natalie G. Glover, Karen J. Derefinko, Joshua D. Miller, Thomas A. Widiger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


There has long been interest in identifying and studying " successful psychopaths." This study sampled psychologists with an interest in law, attorneys, and clinical psychology professors to obtain descriptions of individuals considered to be psychopaths who were also successful in their endeavors. The results showed a consistent description across professions and convergence with descriptions of traditional psychopathy, though the successful psychopathy profile had higher scores on conscientiousness, as measured within the five-factor model (FFM). These results are useful in documenting the existence of successful psychopathy, demonstrating the potential benefit of informant methodology, and providing an FFM description that distinguishes successful psychopaths from unsuccessful psychopaths studied more routinely within prison settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)554-558
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2010


  • Five-factor model
  • General personality
  • Psychopathy
  • Successful psychopath

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Psychology (all)


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