In the News

Murderers | Are They Psychopathic or Not?

Laura Hastie

12th September 2022

New research suggests that murderers are not as psychopathic as first believed, and have less psychopathic traits than other criminals.

Janko Međedović and Nikola Vujičić (Institute of Criminological and Sociological Research in Belgrade) studied 247 male convicts who were serving time in two of the biggest penitentiaries in Serbia. Of this group, 46 were murderers, 82 had committed non-homicide violent offences (mostly violent robberies and grievous bodily harm) and 119 were non-violent offenders (convicted for dealing drugs, for example).

The participants completed questionnaires that assessed their levels of psychopathy, sadism and also Machiavellianism. For each criminal, the team looked at these results and also details of their past history, if any, of offending.

Their main result was that murderers had lower levels of both psychopathy and sadism than the other types of offenders (there was no difference in levels of Machiavellianism). This was particularly true when the murderers were compared with the violent non-murderers.

Read more about this study and use it in discussions about the role of nature, nurture, and personality, in forensic psychology.

Read: Study Casts Doubt on the Psychotic Nature of Murderers

Laura Hastie

Laura is an experienced A-Level Psychology teacher.

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