Gender difference

Posted by Melda Research on May 23rd, 2019

Psychopathy and crime are overwhelmingly male phenomena. Lalumiére et al., (2001) claim that psychopaths are estimated to comprise 20% of the incarcerated population. Females and males with psychopathy score high on the psychopathic behavioral traits that exhibit more criminal activities as compared to women and men with more effective and interpersonal psychopathic traits. Violent recidivism is found to be high among psychopathic male offenders as compared to non-psychopathic male offenders. In the case of women, psychopathic women recidivism rate is lower than recidivism rate among psychopathic men.

A major part of this gender difference may be attributed to the sex-role socialization in general and socialization of aggression in particular. The sex-role socialization does shape the way that aggression manifests across gender to Patrick, (2007). In the society, boys are usually encouraged to play rough, fight for what they believe in, and also contain emotion. In the case of girls, a remarkable thing about the socialization of aggression is its absence. For a young girl possessing aggressive narcissism, they are usually taught all through her childhood that she will receive attention when she cries, but not when she hits. In this way, girls learn that they do not misbehave. Girls tend to be taught that they should not expect a lot and when they grow up, they are taught that they will be valued more if they find a man. However, the girl is filled with emotions and has the narcissistic need for admiration and attention. What girls do is they grow up masking her aggression with passivity, tears, and physical attractiveness finding she gets what she wants. Due to the aggressive narcissism, it makes her more forceful and in need of attention than those who do not have this interpersonal style (Lalumiére et al., 2001). Such behavior does not appear as being antisocial but appears as being dramatically flamboyant human being.

The difference between the genders illustrates the complexity of the symptoms and traits in the manifestation of psychopathy. Women tend to have internal personality traits of aggressive narcissism, but because of how they are raised, they do not display the antisocial behavior that is commonly associated with the psychopathic disorder. According to Patrick, (2007) women usually experience internalizing symptomatology like anxiety and depression while men experience externalizing psychopathology like aggression, substance abuse, and antisocial behavior.  When women act out, anger and aggression are normally redirected inward, and it manifests in the form of physical illness, self-mutilation, eating disorders, or psychiatric illness. In the case when women engage in extreme kinds of criminal behaviors, such behavior is normally directed to family members of children who they are likely to see as being extensions of themselves, and that is why there is the difference in women and men criminals with psychopathy. It is also claimed that females usually use more sexual manipulation and other nonviolent behaviors while the male is usually more aggressive and demonstrate violent behaviors (Patrick, 2007).

Psychopathy is found in both men and women; however, several studies show that psychopathic women and men differ regarding various features.  Poor behavioral controls and short-temper are two major traits of psychopathy. Psychopathic people are more aggressive than non-psychopathic people. Those women with high levels of psychopathic traits are more aggressive than women with low levels of psychopathic traits, and their aggression is usually more internalized as compared to psychopathic men. The aggressive behavior of psychopathic men has intentions of goal direction and selfishness that include aggressive behavior with forethought and planning. Sevecke et al., (2009) found that there is a positive correlation between externalizing behavior and a negative correlation with internalizing problems among psychopathic men. The study results indicated that psychopathic men are prone to use physical violence than psychopathic women. Therefore, the aggressive behavior is different between psychopathic women and men as men aggression is thought as being externalizing while women aggression is internalizing.

Strand and Belfrage (2005) conducted a study to examine gender difference in psychopathy in Swedish offender sample.  The sample contained 129 female psychiatric patient, criminal offenders, and forensic psychiatric evaluees that were compared to a group of 499 male in the same setting. From the study, the researchers found that females are more impulsive and have the worse behavioral control that can be explained by the fact that more females than males are usually diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder while more male is diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. Strand and Belfrage (2005) noted that both personality disorders are related to psychopathy. Sevecke et al., (2009) claim that the difference that exists between both genders is that for the female offenders, a high level of psychopathy is needed for the manifestation of antisocial behavior as compared to male offenders.  In a study aimed at examining gender difference in the manifestation of psychopathy, Lancel & Vogel (2016), found that there are not only differences, but there exist some similarities in their personal and criminal histories. Lancel & Vogel (2016) found that women with psychopathy compare to men with psychopathy committed more fraud, often diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, offended more often out of relation frustration, and did show less physical violence.

Researchers and clinicians emphasize the tendency of psychopathic individuals to engage in violent crime that disturbs both their specific victims and the public in general. Most serial killers meet the criteria of psychopathy that represent the most heinous and serious form of violent offense. The nature of psychopathy and the associated characteristics dispose these individuals towards serious and violent crimes. According to Leistico et al., (2008), they found that psychopathic criminals are likely to engage in aggressive and violent behavior than criminals in general. Leistico et al., (2008) concluded that effective and interpersonal features of psychopathy tend to play a key role in explaining the criminal behavior in female than male. The aggressive behavior associated with psychopathic men can be understood based on how they develop psychopathy. The exposure to different stressful life events in childhood has shown to increase the risk of psychopathy. Those men exposed to childhood abuse in a low amount are reported to have a lower score of psychopathy than men exposed to high levels of abuse.  There is a link between experiencing physical abuse in childhood and psychopathy among psychopathic men, while no link is found among psychopathic women.


Psychopathy happens in both women and men, among the incarcerated population, and also in the general population. In the paper, it examined the gender differences in criminals with psychopathy. From the examination, female psychopaths demonstrate most of the interpersonal and effective features that are considered as the hallmarks of the disorder that include the lack of empathy, deceptiveness, egocentricity, and shallow emotion. The criminal acts of psychopathic females occur as a result of their ability to sexually and physicality to manipulate and achieve their goals instead of the blatant physical aggression. Female psychopathic offenders tend to show more inappropriate behaviors and exaggerated or shallow emotions while male psychopaths usually show the need for admiration, grandiosity, and lack of emotion. Male and females show irresponsible behavior and parasitic lifestyle components despite females score lower due to the perception of acceptability for females to depend on their spouse or parents. The main difference that can be identified between the genders is that females usually use more sexual manipulation and other nonviolent behaviors while a male is usually more aggressive and demonstrate violent behaviors.



Patrick, C.J.(2007) Handbook of Psychopathy. Guilford Press

Leistico, A. R., Salekin, R. T., DeCoster, J., & Rogers, R. (2008). A large-scale meta-analysis relating the Hare measures of psychopathy to antisocial conduct. Law and Human Behavior, 32, 28-45

Lancel, M & Vogel, V (2016). Gender Differences in the Assessment and Manifestation of Psychopathy. International Journal of Forensic Mental Health 15(1)

Sevecke, K., Lehmkuhl, G., & Krischer, M. K. (2009). Examining relations between psychopathology and psychopathy dimensions among adolescent female and male offenders. European child & adolescent psychiatry, 18, 85-95

Lalumiére, M. L., Harris, G. T., & Rice, M. E. (2001). Psychopathy and developmental instability. Evolution and human behavior, 22, 75-92.

Strand, A & Belfrage, H (2005). Gender differences in psychopathy in a Swedish offender sample. Behavioral Science Law 23(6)

Sherry Roberts is the author of this paper. A senior editor at MeldaResearch.Com in legitimate custom writing services Texas. If you need a similar paper you can place your order from research paper writing service Florida services.  

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