Does Your State Have a High Prevalence of Psychopaths?
A new study estimates that some states are home to more psychopaths than others.
Posted Jun 18, 2019
How do you identify a psychopath? Researchers have made a lot of headway in answering this question, and figuring out who is likely to be a psychopath.
We know that men are more likely to have psychopathic tendencies than women (for example, one study on a prison population found 31 percent of men met the criteria, compared to only 11 percent of women).
We know that psychopathy declines as we age. And we know that psychopaths are more prevalent in certain occupations, including CEOs, surgeons, lawyers, celebrities, and politicians.
Perhaps most importantly, we know that people with certain personality traits are more likely to be psychopaths. For example, studies using the Big Five model of personality often find psychopaths are high in extraversion and low in neuroticism, agreeableness, and conscientiousness (although “successful psychopaths” often score high in conscientiousness).
So we know a lot about who is likely to be a psychopath—but what about where? Are there certain places in the United States where psychopaths are more likely to congregate?
A study recently published in the scientific journal Heliyon sought to answer this intriguing question by estimating psychopathy prevalence based on Big Five personality patterns in samples from all 48 states in the contiguous U.S., plus Washington D.C.
So which place was the number one hot spot for psychopaths, according to these estimates?
Perhaps not so surprisingly, D.C. hit the top of the list. Given that psychopaths are master manipulators, it makes sense they would gravitate toward the area of the country with the greatest concentration of political power.
However, the author of the study also suggests D.C. might have ended up at the top of the list because it’s smaller and more urban than its comparison states. More research is needed to tease this issue out.
Now as always, this work is just one study—and a correlational one at that. The author notes that the findings are conjectural, and more data is needed to confirm and replicate these findings. But it does offer an interesting and important first step toward creating the geographical portrait of psychopathy.
So what about the other 48 states? To find out, check out the ranking below.
- New York
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota
- New Mexico
- West Virginia
- South Carolina
- North Carolina
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