Personality traits and violent behavior: A comparison between psychopathic and non-psychopathic male murderers




Antonio de Pádua Serafim, Daniel Martins de Barros, Gustavo Bonini Castellana, Clarice Gorenstein

Psychiatry Research

30 November 2014



•Psychopathic murderers presented scores significantly lower in major factors of TCI

•In all factors of TCI psychopathic murderers showed lower scores from controls

•Psychopaths differ in five factors of TCI from non-psychopathic murderers


The relationship between psychopathy and traits of temperament and character in a specific population of criminals, such as murderers, has not been sufficiently investigated. This study assesses the relationship between psychopathy and temperament and character traits in murderers. The sample consisted of 118 men divided into three groups: psychopathic murderers (N=40), non-psychopathic murderers (N=40) and 38 non-psychopathic non-criminals (controls). All individuals were evaluated by Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R) and The Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI). Psychopathic murderers presented higher scores than the other two groups in PCL-R; both criminal groups presented higher scores than non-psychopathic non-criminals. Psychopathic murderers showed lower scores than non-psychopathic murderers on Harm Avoidance, Reward Dependence, Persistence, Self-Directness and Cooperativeness. There was no difference between murderers groups regarding Novelty Seeking and Self-transcendence. In all TCI personality traits psychopathic and non-psychopathic murderers showed scores lower than controls, except Harm Avoidance for non-psychopathic murderers. In conclusion, most personality traits assessed by TCI were associated with psychopathy, while Novelty Seeking and Self-transcendence were associated with homicidal behavior independently of the psychopathy.









Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee