Locating psychopathy within the domain space of personality pathology

Robert D. Latzman, Kaitlyn E. Tobin, Isabella M. Palumbo, Christopher C. Conway, Scott O. Lilienfeld, Christopher J. Patrick, Robert F. Krueger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


A robust literature demonstrates that psychopathology and personality pathology are well-represented within quantitatively-derived, hierarchical dimensional models. Nevertheless, the location of core traits comprising psychopathic personality (psychopathy) as defined by the triarchic model has not been clearly explicated. We extended hierarchical structural models of personality pathology to include triarchic psychopathy trait dimensions (boldness, meanness, disinhibition) to interface the hierarchical framework of pathological personality dimensions with basic psychopathy trait dimensions. Using data from a racially diverse undergraduate sample (N = 749), “bass-ackwards” analyses revealed a coherently organized hierarchical structure of personality pathology. Psychopathy dimensions were clearly situated within levels of the hierarchy extending beyond the highest, undifferentiated general-factor level. A broad externalizing factor emerged at level 2, which bifurcated into callous-disinhibition and fearless dominance subfactors at level 3 – encompassing psychopathic traits of meanness and disinhibition (thought to represent the trait commonality between antisocial personality disorder and psychopathy) and boldness (thought to differentiate psychopathy from antisocial personality disorder), respectively, at the final two levels of the hierarchy. These results position triarchic psychopathy traits within an extended externalizing spectrum that accommodates boldness-related content.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110124
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


  • Alternative Model for Personality Disorders
  • Hierarchical models
  • Psychopathy
  • Triarchic model


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