Psychological profile of male and female animal abusers

J Interpers Violence. 2012 Mar;27(5):846-61. doi: 10.1177/0886260511423254. Epub 2011 Oct 16.


This study had three purposes: to explore psychological characteristics of animal abusers (criminal thinking styles, empathy, and personality traits), to replicate previously reported results (past illegal actions, bullying behavior), and to examine potential gender differences. The self-reported animal abuser group was 29 college students who reported two or more incidents of animal abuse; controls were 29 college students matched on age and gender. Participants completed self-report measures of criminal thinking, illegal behaviors, bullying, empathy, and the five-factor personality traits. Results indicated animal abusers had more previous criminal behaviors, were more likely to bully, and had the highest scores on the power orientation criminal thinking scale. Abuser by gender interactions were detected; female animal abusers scored significantly higher on several measures of criminal thinking, were found to be more likely to bully, and exhibited lower scores on measures of perspective taking and empathy compared to female controls.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animal Welfare* / statistics & numerical data
  • Animals
  • Bullying / psychology*
  • Criminal Psychology
  • Criminals / psychology*
  • Empathy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mid-Atlantic Region
  • Personality Tests
  • Personality*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Students
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Universities
  • Young Adult