Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 20
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    DeLisi, Matt 2016. Psychopathy as Unified Theory of Crime.

    Kahn, Rachel E. Ermer, Elsa Salovey, Peter and Kiehl, Kent A. 2016. Emotional Intelligence and Callous–Unemotional Traits in Incarcerated Adolescents. Child Psychiatry & Human Development,

    Tuvblad, Catherine Fanti, Kostas A. Andershed, Henrik Colins, Olivier F. and Larsson, Henrik 2016. Psychopathic personality traits in 5 year old twins: the importance of genetic and shared environmental influences. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry,

    Tuvblad, Catherine Wang, Pan Bezdjian, Serena Raine, Adrian and Baker, Laura A. 2016. Psychopathic personality development from ages 9 to 18: Genes and environment. Development and Psychopathology, Vol. 28, Issue. 01, p. 27.

    Essi, Viding and Eamon, McCrory 2015. Rutter's Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

    Humphreys, Kathryn L. McGoron, Lucy Sheridan, Margaret A. McLaughlin, Katie A. Fox, Nathan A. Nelson, Charles A. and Zeanah, Charles H. 2015. High-Quality Foster Care Mitigates Callous-Unemotional Traits Following Early Deprivation in Boys: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Vol. 54, Issue. 12, p. 977.

    Hunt, E. Bornovalova, M. A. and Patrick, C. J. 2015. Genetic and environmental overlap between borderline personality disorder traits and psychopathy: evidence for promotive effects of factor 2 and protective effects of factor 1. Psychological Medicine, Vol. 45, Issue. 07, p. 1471.

    Romero-Rebollar, C. Ostrosky-Shejet, F. Camarena-Medellín, B. Bobes-León, M.A. and Díaz-Galván, K.X. 2015. Effect of MAOA promoter polymorphism and neuropsychological performance on psychopathy traits. Revista Médica Del Hospital General De México, Vol. 78, Issue. 1, p. 21.

    Wang, Pan Gao, Yu Isen, Joshua Tuvblad, Catherine Raine, Adrian and Baker, Laura A. 2015. Genetic covariance between psychopathic traits and anticipatory skin conductance responses to threat: Evidence for a potential endophenotype. Development and Psychopathology, Vol. 27, Issue. 4pt1, p. 1313.

    Dold, Claudia J. 2014. Critical Information Literacy: A Model for Transdisciplinary Research in Behavioral Sciences. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, Vol. 40, Issue. 2, p. 179.

    Fanti, Kostas A. and Munoz Centifanti, Luna C. 2014. Childhood Callous-Unemotional Traits Moderate the Relation Between Parenting Distress and Conduct Problems Over Time. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, Vol. 45, Issue. 2, p. 173.

    Cairncross, Molly Veselka, Livia Schermer, Julie Aitken and Vernon, Philip A. 2013. A Behavioral Genetic Analysis of Alexithymia and the Dark Triad Traits of Personality. Twin Research and Human Genetics, Vol. 16, Issue. 03, p. 690.

    Tuvblad, Catherine and Beaver, Kevin M. 2013. Genetic and environmental influences on antisocial behavior. Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 41, Issue. 5, p. 273.

    Tuvblad, Catherine Bezdjian, Serena Raine, Adrian and Baker, Laura A. 2013. Psychopathic Personality and Negative Parent-to-Child Affect: A Longitudinal Cross-lag Twin Study. Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 41, Issue. 5, p. 331.

    Dolan, M. 2012. The neuropsychology of prefrontal function in antisocial personality disordered offenders with varying degrees of psychopathy. Psychological Medicine, Vol. 42, Issue. 08, p. 1715.

    Ribeiro da Silva, Diana Rijo, Daniel and Salekin, Randall T. 2012. Child and adolescent psychopathy: A state-of-the-art reflection on the construct and etiological theories. Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 40, Issue. 4, p. 269.

    Viding, Essi and McCrory, Eamon J. 2012. Genetic and neurocognitive contributions to the development of psychopathy. Development and Psychopathology, Vol. 24, Issue. 03, p. 969.

    Wang, Pan Baker, Laura A. Gao, Yu Raine, Adrian and Lozano, Dora Isabel 2012. Psychopathic Traits and Physiological Responses to Aversive Stimuli in Children Aged 9–11 Years. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, Vol. 40, Issue. 5, p. 759.

    Sato, João R. de Oliveira-Souza, Ricardo Thomaz, Carlos E. Basílio, Rodrigo Bramati, Ivanei E. Amaro, Edson Tovar-Moll, Fernanda Hare, Robert D. and Moll, Jorge 2011. Identification of psychopathic individuals using pattern classification of MRI images. Social Neuroscience, Vol. 6, Issue. 5-6, p. 627.

    Yeh, Michelle T. Chen, Pan Raine, Adrian Baker, Laura A. and Jacobson, Kristen C. 2011. Child Psychopathic Traits Moderate Relationships Between Parental Affect and Child Aggression. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Vol. 50, Issue. 10, p. 1054.


Psychopathic personality in children: genetic and environmental contributions

  • S. Bezdjian (a1), A. Raine (a2), L. A. Baker (a1) and D. R. Lynam (a3)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 20 May 2010

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:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

AC Akaike (1987). Factor analysis and AIC. Psychometrika 52, 317332.

LA Baker , M Barton , DI Lozano , A Raine , JH Fowler (2006). The Southern California Twin Register at the University of Southern California: II. Twin Research and Human Genetics 9, 933940.

LA Baker , M Barton , A Raine (2002). The Southern California Twin Register at the University of Southern California. Twin Research 5, 456459.

LA Baker , KC Jacobson , A Raine , DI Lozano , S Bezdjian (2007). Genetic and environmental bases of antisocial behavior in children: I. A multi-informant twin study. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 116, 219235.

PM Bentler (1990). Comparative fit indexes in structural models. Psychological Bulletin 107, 238246.

DM Blonigen , SR Carlson , RF Krueger , CJ Patrick (2003). A twin study of self-reported personality traits. Personality and Individual Differences 35, 179197.

DM Blonigen , BM Hicks , RF Krueger , CJ Patrick , WG Iacono (2006). Continuity and change in psychopathic traits as measured via normal-range personality: A longitudinal-biometric study. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 115, 8595.

JR Brandt , WA Kennedy , CJ Patrick , JJ Curtin (1997). Assessment of psychopathy in a population of incarcerated adolescent offenders. Psychological Assessment 9, 429435.

RJR Blair , M Coles (2000). Expression recognition and behavioural problems in early adolescence. Cognitive Development 15, 421434.

DJ Cooke , C Michie (2001). Refining the construct of psychopathy: Towards a hierarchical model. Psychological Assessment 13, 171188.

KR Cruise , LH Colwell , PM Lyons Jr., MD Baker (2003). Prototypical analysis of adolescent psychopathy: Investigating the juvenile justice perspective. Behavioral Sciences and the Law 21, 829846.

JF Edens , JL Skeem , KR Cruise , E Cauffman (2001). Assessment of ‘juvenile psychopathy’ and its association with violence: a critical review. Behavioral Sciences & the Law. Special Issue: Youth Violence 19, 5380.

DM Falkenbach , NG Poythress , KM Heide (2003). Psychopathic features in a juvenile diversion population: reliability and predictive validity of two self-report measures. Behavioral Sciences and the Law 21, 787805.

PJ Frick (1998). Conduct Disorders and Severe Antisocial Behavior. Plenum: New York.

PJ Frick , SD Bodin , CT Barry (2000). Psychopathic traits and conduct problems in community and clinic-referred samples of children: further development of the Psychopathy Screening Device. Psychological Assessment 12, 382393.

PJ Frick , BS O'Brien , JM Wootton , K McBurnett (1994). Psychopathy and conduct problems in children. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 103, 700707.

TJ Harpur , AR Hakstian , RD Hare (1988). Factor structure of the Psychopathy Checklist. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 56, 741747.

SD Hart , PR Kropp , RD Hare (1988). Performance of male psychopaths following conditional release from prison. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 56, 227232.

JS Kotler , RJ McMahon (2005). Child psychopathy: theories, measurement, and relations with the development and persistence of conduct problems. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review 8, 291325.

ML Lalumiere , GT Harris , ME Rice (2001). Psychopathy and developmental instability. Evolution and Human Behavior 22, 7592.

H Larsson , H Andershed , P Lichtenstein (2006). A genetic factor explains most of the variation in the psychopathic personality. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 115, 221230.

DR Lynam (1996). The early identification of chronic offenders: Who is the fledgling psychopath? Psychological Bulletin 120, 209234.

DR Lynam (1997). Pursuing the psychopath: capturing the fledgling psychopath in a nomological net. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 106, 425438.

DR Lynam (1998). Early identification of the fledgling psychopath: locating the psychopathic child in the current nomenclature. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 107, 566575.

DR Lynam (2002). Fledgling psychopathy: a view from personality theory. Law and Human Behavior 26, 255259.

DR Lynam , A Caspi , TE Moffitt , R Loeber , M Stouthamer-Loeber (2007). Longitudinal evidence that psychopathy scores in early adolescence predict adult psychopathy. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 116, 155165.

DR Lynam , L Gudonis (2005). The development of psychopathy. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 381407.

MJ Lyons , WR True , SA Eisen , J Goldberg (1995). Differential heritability of adult and juvenile antisocial traits. Archives of General Psychiatry 52, 906915.

RP McDonald (1989). An index of goodness of fit based on noncentrality. Journal of Classifications 6, 97–103.

TE Moffitt , A Caspi , N Dickson , P Silva , W Stanton (1996). Childhood-onset versus adolescent-onset antisocial conduct problems in males: natural history from ages 3 to 18 years. Development and Psychopathology 1, 105118.

BS O'Brien , PJ Frick (1996). Reward dominance: associations with anxiety, conduct problems, and psychopathy in children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 24, 223240.

A Piatigorsky , SP Hinshaw (2004). Psychopathic traits in boys with and without attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: concurrent and longitudinal correlates. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 32, 535550.

R Plomin , JC DeFries , GE McClearn , P McGuffin (2001). Behavioral Genetics. Worth Publisher: New York.

D, lle Posthuma , AL Beem , EJC de Geus , GCM van Baal , JB von Hjelmborg , I Iachine , DI Boomsma , (2003). Theory and Practice in Quantitative Genetics. Twin Research and Human Genetics 6, 361376.

TA Ridenour , GL Marchant , RS Dean (2001). Is the revised psychopathy checklist clinically useful for adolescents? Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment 19, 227238.

RT Salekin , AR Leistico , CS Neumann , TM DiCicco , RL Duros (2004). Psychopathy and comorbidity in a young offender sample: taking a closer look at psychopathy's potential importance over disruptive behavior disorders. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 113, 416427.

RT Salekin , AR Leistico , KK Trobst , CL Schrum , JE Lochman (2005). Adolescent psychopathy and personality theory – the interpersonal circumplex: expanding evidence of a nomological net. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 33, 445460.

RT Salekin , R Rogers , D Machin (2001). Psychopathy in youth: pursuing diagnostic clarity. Journal of Youth and Adolescence 30, 173195.

A Taylor , BR Loney , L Bobadilla , WG Iacono , M McGue (2003). Genetic and environmental influences on psychopathy trait dimensions in a community sample of male twins. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 31, 633645.

E Viding , RJR Blair , TE Moffitt , R Plomin (2005). Evidence for substantial genetic risk for psychopathy in 7-year-olds. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 46, 592597.

MJ Vitacco , R Rogers , CS Neumann , KS Harrison , G Vincent (2005). A comparison of factor models on the PCL-R with mentally disordered offenders: the development of a four-factor model. Criminal Justice and Behavior 32, 526545.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *