Using a general model of personality to identify the basic elements of psychopathy

Donald R. Lynam, Thomas A. Widiger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

216 Scopus citations


In the present paper, we outline why we believe that factor analyses of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist Revised (Hare, 2003) are unlikely to yield the basic elements of psychopathy. As an alternative approach, we suggest embedding psychopathy within a broad model of general personality functioning, namely the five factor model (McCrae & Costa, 1990). Drawing on our previous work in the area using expert ratings, correlational approaches, and a "translation" of the PCL-R, we provide a consensus description of the core elements of psychopathy: extremely high interpersonal antagonism, pan-impulsivity, the absence of negative self-directed affect, the presence of angry hostility, and interpersonal assertiveness. We end with a discussion of the implications of this analysis for understanding, researching, and measuring psychopathy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-178
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Personality Disorders
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Using a general model of personality to identify the basic elements of psychopathy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this