Personality Traits Are Linked to Crime Among Men and Women: Evidence From a Birth Cohort

Robert F. Krueger, Pamela S. Schmutte, Avshalom Caspi, Terrie E. Moffitt, Kathleen Campbell, Phil A. Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

241 Scopus citations


Is there a relationship between personality and criminal behavior? We addressed this question in a representative birth cohort of 862 male and female 18-year-olds. Personality was assessed with the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire (MPQ). The MPQ measures 10 relatively independent personality traits and was not designed to identify offenders. Delinquency was assessed via 3 data sources: self-reports, informant reports, and official records. Variable-centered analyses revealed that MPQ scales indexing negative emotionality and behavioral constraint were consistent predictors of delinquency across the 3 data sources. Person-centered analyses revealed that youths abstaining from delinquency were uniquely characterized by low interpersonal potency. Youths involved in extensive delinquency were uniquely characterized by feelings of alienation, lack of social closeness, and risk taking. Advances in understanding criminal behavior can be made through research that places the personality-delinquency link in a developmental context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)328-338
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of abnormal psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1994


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