Psychiatric Quarterly

, Volume 83, Issue 2, pp 145–159 | Cite as

The Neuropsychological Underpinnings to Psychopathic Personality Traits in a Nationally Representative and Longitudinal Sample

  • Kevin M. Beaver
  • Michael G. Vaughn
  • Matt DeLisi
  • J. C. Barnes
  • Brian B. Boutwell
Original Paper


Although psychopathy is a major area of research in psychology and criminology, much remains unknown about its etiological underpinnings. Drawing on data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, the current study explored the association between neuropsychological deficits and psychopathic personality traits and produced three key findings. First, four neuropsychological deficits measures were consistently related to the measure of psychopathic personality traits both longitudinally and cross-sectionally. Second, neuropsychological deficits measures predicted variation in psychopathic personality traits for both males and females and the magnitude of the association between neuropsychological deficits and psychopathic personality traits did not vary as a function of gender. Third, parental socialization measures had relatively small and inconsistent effects on psychopathic personality traits. Suggestions for future research are offered.


Psychopathy Neuropsychological deficits Psychopathic personality Neuropsychology 



This research uses data from Add Health, a program project designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris, and funded by a grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 17 other agencies. Special acknowledgment is due to Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Persons interested in obtaining data files from Add Health should contact Add Health, Carolina Population Center, 123 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516-2524 ( No direct support was received from grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin M. Beaver
    • 1
  • Michael G. Vaughn
    • 2
  • Matt DeLisi
    • 3
  • J. C. Barnes
    • 4
  • Brian B. Boutwell
    • 5
  1. 1.College of Criminology and Criminal JusticeFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA
  2. 2.School of Social Work, Division of Epidemiology, School of Public HealthSaint Louis UniversitySt. LouisUSA
  3. 3.Department of SociologyIowa State UniversityAmesUSA
  4. 4.School of Economic, Political, and Policy SciencesUniversity of Texas at DallasRichardsonUSA
  5. 5.College of Criminal JusticeSam Houston State UniversityHuntsvilleUSA

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