Psychopathic personality and racial/ethnic differences reconsidered: a reply to Lynn (2002) Academic Article uri icon


  • Lynn (2002) argued that psychopathic personality is distributed disproportionately across racial and ethnic groups, and that these putative group differences were likely attributable to genetic factors. Lynn's analysis is problematic on three primary counts. First, he equates psychopathy with generalized antisocial behavior and social deviance and fails to distinguish longstanding personality-based from behavior-based conceptions of this syndrome. Second, Lynn presumes rather than demonstrates that genetic factors explain race differences in antisocial behavior and social deviance, neglecting such potential alternative explanations as socioeconomic status and measured verbal intelligence. Third, Lynn presents an evolutionary explanation for putative racial and ethnic group differences in psychopathy that fails to reflect current methods and practices of evolutionary biology and genetics. A lack of awareness that Lynn's conclusions are premature and unwarranted, given the present state of the data, may have far-reaching legal and public policy implications. 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 10.35

author list (cited authors)

  • Skeem, J. L., Edens, J. F., Sanford, G. M., & Colwell, L. H.

citation count

  • 30

complete list of authors

  • Skeem, JL||Edens, JF||Sanford, GM||Colwell, LH

publication date

  • October 2003