Self-Control Versus Psychopathy: A Head-to-Head Test of General Theories of Antisociality


Self-control and psychopathy are prominent general theories of antisociality that, although present in a very similar type of individual, have not often been studied in tandem, and few studies have conducted a head-to-head test of their association with serious delinquency and youth violence. Using a near census of institutionalized delinquents from Missouri, the current study found that both low self-control and psychopathy were significantly associated with various forms of delinquency and severe or chronic delinquency, as measured by 90th percentile on the distribution. However, low self-control was associated with more forms of delinquency, and victimization and youth with the lowest levels of self-control were at greatest risk for pathological delinquency relative to those with the most psychopathic personality. Both self-control and psychopathy are essential for understanding the most severe variants of delinquency, and more head-to-head tests are encouraged to assess the strength of criminological theories.


DeLisi, M., Tostlebe, J., Burgason, K., Heirigs, M., & Vaughn, M. (2016). Self-control versus psychopathy: A head-to-head test of general theories of antisociality. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/1541204016682998