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Psychopathic personality in children: genetic and environmental contributions

  • S. Bezdjian (a1), A. Raine (a2), L. A. Baker (a1) and D. R. Lynam (a3)

The current study investigates whether the underlying factor structure of psychopathic personality traits found in adults is similar to that in children and what the extent of the genetic and environmental influences are on these psychopathic traits.


Psychopathic personality traits were assessed in a community sample of 1219 twins and triplets (age 9–10 years) through caregiver reports of each child's behavior using the Child Psychopathy Scale (CPS).


Confirmatory factor analyses revealed an optimal two-factor solution (callous/disinhibited and manipulative/deceitful) to the CPS subscales. Bivariate genetic modeling of the two computed factor scores revealed significant genetic as well as unique environmental influences on psychopathic personality traits in both boys and girls, with heritability estimates of 0.64 and 0.46, respectively, in boys and 0.49 and 0.58, respectively, in girls. No shared environmental influences on psychopathic personality traits were found.


The relationship between the two factors was mediated by both genetic and unique environmental factors common to both traits.

Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: Dr S. Bezdjian, University of Southern California, Department of Psychology (SGM 501), Los Angeles, CA 90089-1061, USA. (Email:
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Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
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