Psychologists have estimated the number of psychopaths in society

Psychologists have estimated the number of psychopaths in society
Psychologists have estimated the number of psychopaths in society

A meta-analysis showed that psychopathic traits appear in 4.5 percent of the adult population, most often in company directors, lawyers and prisoners.


A reduced ability to empathize with another person causes the development of psychopathic personality traits: heartlessness, self-centeredness, deceit, a tendency to manipulate, a poor and superficial emotional life. All this often ends in a crime and a prison sentence, but sometimes the same character traits allow you to succeed in certain areas.

Spanish psychologists conducted a meta-analysis of existing data on the number of psychopaths in society, prisons and different professions. The results of the work are presented in an article published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

Maria García-Vera and her colleagues at the Complutense University of Madrid searched the PsycInfo, MEDLINE and PSICODOC publications databases on the topic. The work found 15 suitable articles, the total sample of which was almost 11, 5 thousand people. Regression analysis allowed us to consider the influence of various factors on the frequency of occurrence of psychopathic traits: occupation, gender, country of residence, and so on.

The authors concluded that the total number of psychopaths is about 4.5 percent of the adult population. Such signs are more common in men (7.9 percent) than in women (2.9 percent), as well as among employees of various organizations than in samples at the place of residence or study. So, in the samples of managers, purchasing managers, marketers, the number of psychopaths was estimated at 12.9 percent, while among students - at 8.1 percent, and in the samples of the general population - only 1.9 percent.

Scientists note that, according to one of the studies conducted in the UK, most often psychopathic manifestations are observed in company managing directors (CEOs), lawyers, TV and radio presenters, sales managers and surgeons. As you might expect, psychopaths are much more common among prisoners: 15-25 percent of men and 10-12 percent of women. Curiously, European prisoners show these traits less frequently than North American prisoners.

However, the specific numbers strongly depend on the method used to define psychopathy. In particular, when using the latest version of the Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R), the number of such people was only 1.2 percent of the adult population.

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