Psychopathy factors and risk for aggressive behavior: a test of the "threatened egotism" hypothesis

Law Hum Behav. 2006 Feb;30(1):51-74. doi: 10.1007/s10979-006-9004-5.


The primary purpose of this study was to examine psychopathy within a model of aggressive behavior that encompasses narcissism and "threatened egoism." This model was advanced by Baumeister and his colleagues (e.g., R. F. Baumeister, L. Smart, & J. M. Boden, 1996; B. J. Bushman & R. F. Baumeister, 1998). We examined whether the threatened egotism model extends to the construct of psychopathy and whether the two factors underlying psychopathy exhibit different associations with aggression within this model. Self-report data, correctional officer and counselor reports, and disciplinary report information obtained for 98 male inmates provided partial evidence that psychopathic individuals tend to respond aggressively when confronted with an ego threat. Moreover, psychopathic individuals exhibited this pattern of aggression more strongly than did narcissistic individuals. These findings bear potentially useful implications for the understanding and treatment of aggression in forensic populations.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Anger
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology*
  • Crime / psychology
  • Ego*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Narcissism*
  • Prisoners / psychology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk
  • Self Concept
  • Violence / psychology