Mafia and psychopathy




In popular culture, Mafia members are often portrayed as ruthless, callous and remorseless, but there is no empirical research on their personality traits.


The goal of this research was to examine levels of psychopathic traits among Mafia members who have been convicted of a criminal offence.


The Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) rated 30 Italian adult male prisoners who had been convicted for Mafia-related crimes (86% resident in one 6-month period) and 39 next adjacent convicted men who were not enrolled in any criminal organisation.


Mafia members obtained lower PCL-R total scores, interpersonal and affective (PCL-R factor 1) scores and lifestyle scores (factor 2) than the other offenders. Logistic regression analysis showed that lower PCL-R factor 1 scores with higher factor 2 scores in the absence of a history of substance misuse disorder distinguished Mafia from non-Mafia offenders. A probability curve confirmed an exponential growth in the probability of classification as a Mafia member in relation to lower PCL-R factor 1 scores.


Our findings bring new hope for resocialisation of convicted Mafia members, because they showed significant antisocial traits but they maintained a capacity for emotional connection and greater likelihood of engaging with training and resocialisation programmes than other imprisoned offenders in Italy. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.