Neuropsychological differentiation of psychopathic and nonpsychopathic criminal offenders

Stevens S. Smith, Peter A. Arnett, Joseph P. Newman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


A battery of neuropsychological measures was administered to 69 right-handed incarcerated male offenders to test the hypothesis that psychopaths would perform more poorly than nonpsychopaths on measures related to left hemisphere (verbal) functioning, frontal lobe (executive) functioning, or both. Psychopathy was assessed with the Psychopathy Checklist and subjects were further subdivided into low- and high-anxious groups. Robust group differences were found on two of six measures (Block Design and trail Making Test, Part B) predicted to differentiate the groups. Consistent with other studies that subdivided subjects into low- and high-anxious groups, group differences were specific to the low-anxious subjects. The results provided no support for the hypothesis that psychopaths are characterized by verbal or left hemisphere dysfunction. Although the results were not inconsistent with the hypothesis of deficient frontal lobe functioning in psychopaths, the evidence supporting the hypothesis was specific to tasks involving the integration of cognitive-perceptual and motor processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1233-1243
Number of pages11
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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