Psychopathic personality traits in middle-aged male twins: a behavior genetic investigation

J Pers Disord. 2010 Aug;24(4):473-86. doi: 10.1521/pedi.2010.24.4.473.


Psychopathic personality is characterized by interpersonal dominance, impulsivity, sensation seeking, poor planning, and aggressiveness. Studies have shown that the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire (MPQ) can be used to estimate scores on the fearless-dominant (FD) and the impulsive-antisocial (IA) dimensions of the Psychopathic Personality Inventory (PPI), the best validated self-report measure of psychopathic personality traits. Prior behavior genetic studies reported roughly equal genetic and nonshared environmental influences for both FD and IA, which remained stable from adolescence to young adulthood. However, no prior studies address genetic and environmental influences on these dimensions beyond early adulthood. We utilized the classic twin method to examine genetic and environmental influences on variance in FD and IA in a sample of middle-aged male twins. Biometric modeling indicated that the variance in both factors is best explained by additive genetic and nonshared environmental influences. FD showed roughly equal contributions from genetic and environmental factors, whereas IA showed greater contributions from environmental than genetic factors. Additionally, the small phenotypic correlation between FD and IA was explained entirely by nonshared environmental factors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Aggression / psychology
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / genetics*
  • Diseases in Twins / genetics*
  • Dominance-Subordination*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Power, Psychological
  • Social Environment
  • Social Identification
  • Social Perception
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Twins / genetics*