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Personality and Individual Differences 32 (2002) 273–316
www.elsevier.com/locate/paid

Racial and ethnic differences in psychopathic personality
Richard Lynn *
University of Ulster, Coleraine, Northern Ireland, BT52 1SA, UK
Received 19 June 2000; received in revised form 15 December 2000; accepted 27 January 2001

Abstract
This paper proposes that there are racial and ethnic differences in psychopathic personality conceptualised as a continuously distributed trait, such that high values of the trait are present in blacks and
Native Americans, intermediate values in Hispanics, lower values in whites and the lowest values in East
Asians. Part one of the paper sets out the evidence for this thesis. Part two applies the thesis to the unresolved problem in The Bell Curve that racial and ethnic differences in a number of social phenomena such
as crime, welfare dependency, rates of marriage, etc. cannot be fully explained by differences in intelligence
and proposes that some of the residual disparities are attributable to differences in psychopathic personality. Part three of the paper integrates the theory with Rushton’s r-K theory of race differences. # 2001
Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Psychopathic personality; Conduct disorder; Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; Crime; Marriage;
Sexual behaviour; Race differences; r-K theory

1. Introduction
This paper offers a contribution to a problem posed by Herrnstein and Murray (1994) in The
Bell Curve. Herrnstein and Murray argue that racial and ethnic differences in a number of social
phenomena such as crime, poverty, long-term unemployment, teenage pregnancy and the like are
partly explicable in terms of differences in intelligence. They show, however, that differences in
intelligence cannot explain entirely the racial and ethnic differences in these phenomena and they
therefore conclude that some other factor or factors must also be involved. They conclude that
‘‘Some ethnic differences are not washed away by controlling for either intelligence or for any
other variables that we examined. We leave those remaining differences unexplained and look
forward to learning from our colleagues where the explanations lie’’ (p. 340).
* Present address: The Whitfield Institute, Whitfield Court, Glewstone, Ross-on-Wye, Herts, HR9 6AS, UK. Tel.:
+44-1989-770908.
E-mail address: rlynn@uk.packardbell.org
0191-8869/01/$ - see front matter # 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
PII: S0191-8869(01)00029-0