Dr. Robert Hare developed the psychopathy checklist in the 1970s and it’s used as an outline for the psychopath test. He spent three decades studying psychopathy and criminal psychology in order to develop this diagnostic tool to help measure a person’s psychopathic tendencies. Psychopaths often commit sexual assault or violent crimes over and over which makes them repeat offenders. The psychopathy checklist is now used in institutions in courtrooms to determine if the subjects are at a high risk of being dangerous to themselves or others.
Related resource: Ranking Top 25 Graduate Programs in Experimental Psychology
The Psychopathy Checklist
The checklist consists of 20 items that can be classified as symptoms of psychosis. Qualified examiners use strategic questioning in order to test whether or not these symptoms are present in their patients and to what degree. Each symptom is measured on a scale from zero to two and the examiner records how well they apply to their subject.
- early behavior problems
- pathological lying
- glib and superficial charm
- failure to accept responsibility for own actions
- lack of remorse or guilt
- juvenile delinquency
- grandiose (exaggeratedly high) estimation of self
- revocation of conditional release
- callousness and lack of empathy
- criminal versatility
- parasitic lifestyle
- lack of realistic long-term goals
- poor behavioral controls
- sexual promiscuity
- many short-term marital relationships
- cunning and manipulativeness
- need for stimulation
- shallow affect (superficial emotional responsiveness)
A person with no psychopathic traits would score a zero whereas the typical psychopath could score the full 40. Psychology Today reports that non-criminal psychopaths often score closer to 30 but violent psychopaths like murderers and rapists score closer to 40. A person that scores 30 or above would qualify for a diagnosis of psychopathy.
Manipulative Behavior and Lack of Emotion
The psychopathy test shows that psychopaths have no sense of empathy. It’s difficult for them to see things from another person’s perspective. They can superficially understand what a person is going through and create the illusion of empathy without being emotionally connected. They tend to put others at risk with their behavior because they often don’t consider others and how they might be affected. This can range from driving to intimate relationships. Their relationships with others are very superficial and they these false connections to mold people into things that they can use like objects. Psychopaths are often searching for short-term gratification with very little regard for what may happen long-term.
Narcissistic and Self-serving Tendencies
Psychopaths often aim to oppress others and put themselves in higher positions that allow them to be more manipulative. They believe that they are smarter and better than everyone else. They tend to avoid socializing when they are very young and this behavior usually continues throughout their lives. They generally don’t accept responsibility for their own behavior and usually try to blame others.
Psychopaths easily blend into society so it may be difficult to know whether or not you’ve encountered one. These traits can help to identify psychopaths in everyday life. Because the direction of a person’s life may hinge upon the results of a psychopath test, it’s incredibly important that it is administered by a licensed professional.