Is There a Relationship Between Psychopathic Traits and Racism?

Abstract

Psychopathy has a long history in both criminal forensic psychology research and clinical practice, with a diverse range of anti-social attitudes and behaviours regularly found to coexist with psychopathy. Racist attitudes are considered anti-social and share several commonalities with psychopathic personality traits, including in their development and their manifestation. Both psychopathy and racism have significant and pervasive detrimental impacts on society; enhancing understandings of each construct and the potential ways to reduce their societal impact would therefore be useful. Using two measures of racist attitudes, the present study aimed to provide the first exploration of psychopathic personality traits and racist attitudes in 402 adolescents and adults (M = 23.24 years, SD = 9.72 years) from the Australian community. The results provide strong support for the existence of a relationship between psychopathy and racism, and provide additional validity evidence for RACES as an effective measure of racist attitudes in Australia. These findings provide impetus for future work into racism and psychopathy, and highlight the potential for integrating existing knowledge about both constructs to address the impacts of each simultaneously. This research also underscores the merit of further research on the relationship between criminal behaviour and racist attitudes.

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Acknowledgments

The research on which this article is based was conducted as a component of the degree of Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology Specialising in Forensic Psychology at Monash University. The authors would like to acknowledge the assistance of Professor James Ogloff for his advice on preliminary versions of this article and for his general support throughout the research.

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There are no conflicts of interest to report.

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Correspondence to Kaine Grigg.

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Grigg, K., Manderson, L. Is There a Relationship Between Psychopathic Traits and Racism?. Curr Psychol 34, 702–712 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-014-9283-9

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Keywords

  • Australia
  • Community
  • Racism
  • Acceptance
  • Psychopathy
  • RACES