Examining the Association Between Childhood Cognitive Ability and Psychopathic Traits at Age 48

Nicholas Kavish, Henriette Bergstrøm, Chelsey Narvey, Alex R. Piquero, David P. Farrington, Brian B. Boutwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Despite early theorists suggesting that psychopathic traits are associated with higher intelligence, meta-analytic work has found that global psychopathy scores are actually negatively related to intelligence, albeit weakly. Furthermore, it was reported in the same meta-analytic work that the various dimensions of psychopathy were differentially related to intelligence. Importantly, virtually all of the research to date has relied on cross-sectional associations. The current study examined whether intelligence scores (verbal comprehension, nonverbal IQ, and a global intelligence composite) at age 8 were associated with psychopathy scores at age 48 in a sample of White, urban male individuals from London (analytical n = 292). Results suggested a significant, but weak, inverse association between intelligence and the affective, lifestyle, and antisocial facets of psychopathy and a nonsignificant association with the interpersonal facet, as assessed by the Psychopathy Checklist: Screening Version. These findings contribute to the growing body of evidence suggesting that psychopathy, as conceptualized in most modern models, is either very weakly inversely related to or simply not a correlate of intelligence.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalPersonality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 30 Mar 2020


  • Cognitive ability
  • Nonverbal intelligence
  • Psychopathic traits
  • Psychopathy
  • Verbal intelligence

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