Conflict of interest statement: No conflicts declared.
A longitudinal twin study of the direction of effects between psychopathic personality and antisocial behaviour
Article first published online: 24 AUG 2009
© 2009 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2009 Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Volume 51, Issue 1, pages 39–47, January 2010
How to Cite
Forsman, M., Lichtenstein, P., Andershed, H. and Larsson, H. (2010), A longitudinal twin study of the direction of effects between psychopathic personality and antisocial behaviour. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 51: 39–47. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2009.02141.x
- Issue published online: 9 DEC 2009
- Article first published online: 24 AUG 2009
- Manuscript accepted 25 June 2009
- Antisocial behaviour;
- psychopathic personality;
Background: Antisocial behaviour may partly develop as a consequence of psychopathic personality. However, neither the direction of effects nor the aetiology of the association has previously been clarified. The aim in this study was to investigate the direction of effects between psychopathic personality and antisocial behaviour, and to investigate the genetic and environmental contribution to this association.
Method: Twins (n = 2,255) in the Swedish Twin Study of Child and Adolescent Development were prospectively followed from adolescence to adulthood. We used a longitudinal cross-lagged twin model to study the associations between psychopathic personality and antisocial behaviour.
Results: Psychopathic personality in mid-adolescence predicted antisocial behaviour in adulthood (p < .001), but not the other way around. However, bidirectional effects were found when a measure of persistent antisocial behaviour (from age 8–9 to age 16–17) was used. Psychopathic personality predicted both rule-breaking behaviour (p < .001) and aggressive behaviour (p < .01). Genetic factors were of importance in mediating the longitudinal associations between psychopathic personality and antisocial behaviour.
Conclusions: This study provides evidence that genetically influenced psychopathic personality is a robust predictor of adult antisocial behaviour, but also that persistent antisocial behaviour has an impact on adult psychopathic personality via genetic effects.