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By February 29, 2008 Read More →

Why are there so many sociopaths in America?

This semester I am teaching Psychology of Women at the University of Bridgeport. This is the second time I have taught this course. It is a fun course to teach because everyone likes it. This week we took up the issue of whether overall women’s personalities are different from men’s. A significant percentage of the class believes that men and women are very different in many domains and that this difference is biologic or genetic. The author of our textbook is a feminist from New York so she tends to down play any gender differences found, and she attributes nearly all gender differences to culture.

To balance the views of the textbook, I look for other articles to share with the class. This week I found a great paper, and coincidentally some interesting statistics were also reported in the news. The paper I found is entitled Why Can’t a Man Be More Like a Woman? Sex Differences in Big Five Personality Traits Across 55 Cultures. It was just published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The results are shocking and a wake up call.

The authors found that there are significant sex differences in personality in the areas of neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and extraversion. This means that around the world, women are more anxious/fearful, more agreeable, more conscientious and possess more positive sociability traits than do men. Of course all the sexist people in my class attribute this to an inherent biological difference between the sexes. They also expect me to agree with the biological view. After all I spent five years in a lab at Yale studying the effects of sex steroids on the brain.

In spite of my background I do not accept that these gender differences in personality result from a preprogrammed unfolding of the genetic plan. I believe they are largely culturally determined. My position is supported by the study I am sharing with you. It turns out that gender differences in personality are the LARGEST in Western countries where women have the most opportunity and the greatest equality. Furthermore, gender differences in personality around the world are due to differences in men, not differences in women.

Yes, that means that America and Europe lead the world in producing men who are fearless, disagreeable, lacking in conscientiousness and positive sociality. This is very important to us because these are the very personality traits that are associated with sociopathy (See Are they just evil people?).

The study found that communal, trusting cultures produce men who are more androgynous in their personalities. The men from communal cultures are more fearful, more conscientious, and more prosocial. Fearlessness, is perhaps the most important temperamental trait leading to the development of sociopathy. Furthermore, smoking among women around the world is associated with the largest sex differences in personality. This is interesting because maternal smoking has been linked to sociopathy in offspring (see Maternal smoking linked to sociopathy in Offspring).

So how do we put this all together? I think maleness and the hormone testosterone make boys more sensitive to early environmental experiences. If boys are raised in a loving environment, where social bonds and self-sacrifice for the family are strongly encouraged, then they will grow up more loving and prosocial. If boys are raised to be independent and look out for number one, they are more likely than girls to develop antisocial attitudes. Add to that, the effect environmental toxins have on impulse control and you have an explanation for the high prevalence of sociopathy in our society.

That brings me to the news this week. According to the Pew Center on the States Public Safety Performance Project , 2,319,258 adults were held in American prisons or jails at the beginning of 2008. This means that 1 in 30 men between the ages of 20 and 34 is behind bars. Since 80 percent of those in prison are sociopaths, nearly 3 percent of the young adult male population is a jailed sociopath. In spite of this the crime rate remains stable due to the many who are not in jail. To read more see MSNBC.com. What percentage of the total young adult male sociopaths are in prison anyway? If you guess 30 percent, that means a sizable percentage of young adult males are sociopathic. We just don’t know.

These statistics are a wake-up call for us all. The practices and beliefs of our society are leading to more sociopaths being formed than would otherwise be formed. We need to rethink our values and our child rearing practices. We need to say strongly that it is very important for boys to grow up possessing the capacity for guilt and empathy. We need to stop believing that dominance and competitiveness are the most important personal qualities to possess. We need to stop conditioning boys to be callous by bombarding them with violent entertainment.

Furthermore, we need to provide our children with a safe clean environment. That starts by eliminating smoking in women of child bearing age and telling teen aged girls they have a responsibility not to start smoking. If teen aged girls start smoking, it is unlikely they will quit in time to prevent exposure of the unborn. In some segments of our society, up to 30 per cent of pregnant women smoke.

Women can sit around complaining that there are not enough “good men” to go around. Or, they can do something about these issues so that future generations will not face these largely preventable social problems.



54 Comments on "Why are there so many sociopaths in America?"

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  1. righteous woman says:

    Artfldogr –

    What was that? I am degreed as well, and not only did I loose interest in what I did read, but what I did read made no sense and formed no opinion…I agree with you OxDrover. And I am usually so patient to people who stumble on here…I can’t even pity this one because I don’t know what they were talking about.

  2. Artfldogr says:

    you are right. i came out of nowhere with that and that was wrong. it was out of context, and assumed too much prior knowlege. (it came after a heated debate with another person, while that is no excuse or justification that makes it valid, it might explain the context).

    I was quite a bit offended in the fact that ideology is a basis of knowing rather than empiracism of some sort. the fact that someone can ignore so much to assert so much and then hear others chime in as if its a club and they dont realize stuff was a bit upsetting to me. ultimately all this plays with peoples lives, and while i am pretty smart, i have not come up in privileged background and have watched such cliques describe a reality that doesnt match and then go out and teach that schema to others.

    for a neutral example away from this and the people here.

    I was reading a nursing book on various domestic violence. the book wasnt big, but it was notable in that it was a textbook used at a medical college, and a reference in their library.

    what is interesting was that the book was ideological tinted, so the information in it, or not in it would define the world of the nurses that were taught it.

    people have a weird way of living through their definitions and ideas of the world rather than the world itself. depending on how they are taught they can get a kind of mindblindness to things. police taught that purple people never commit crimes, will bias their judgments later and excuse behaviors that are not extreme enough, and if they are, they cause dissonance.

    the book basically taught that violence went in one directoin, from the father figure, to the mother, children, and elderly. there was no mother to children violence, no female to male violence, etc. not one mention at all. none.

    so what kind of world would the person who went to a lot of school have if that was part of their curriculum?

    degrees are great, but they arent perfect, and they are a product of a predefined world view. more so if the world is so keen on ideology based views. dont get me wrong, i do respect a degree, and i do hope that my wrong usage of terms is understood correctly…

    the person who wrote the starter piece is a teacher, she has already said she is injecting an ideological view. a bias into the minds who are not their for bias.

    now 6 years from now, they will sit and judge the world with a set of degrees and will they understand someone that is very poorly trying to point out their bias?

    i was wrong in how i approached that. totally wrong as you obviously were willing to hear a less copious and more back and forth dialogue. i am more used to the net denizens that are quite a deail thicker and who tend to only give you once chance to say something.

  3. righteous woman says:

    Ok – I get there was an apology in there…But do you even know what type of blog site that this is?

  4. OxDrover says:

    Notice how YOUR “opinon set” influenced the way you approached OUR DISCUSSION GROUP—

    “I am more used to the net denizens that are quite a deal thicker and who tend to only give you once chance to say something.”

    Also the way you wrote it, with quotes by others interspersed within your diatribe it was very difficult to know if you were speaking that or if someone else was being quoted.

    This group is a DISCUSSION group for victims of people who are psychopathic. It is also for learning what kind of people who are labeled “psychopathic” DO, how they tend to think, how they tend to act, and the genetic as well as cultural differences in them.

    The PURPOSE of this group is to facilitate healing in those people who have been victimized by people with these personality DISORDERS. This is a condition that while it has genetic, psychological, social, cultural, behaviorial, and emotional components is essentially a manner of treating others as OBJECTS, and completely without remorse of any kind.

    The people who post here for the most part have a common experience and a common interest and are very accepting of ideas of different cultures and psychological outlooks, we all have OPINIONS and we try to respect your OPINION and each other’s opinions.

    In a philosophical discussion, which this sometimes is, as well as a spiritual discussion, we feel free to say something like “My faith in Jesus helped me make it through the emotional pain” and someone else may say, “My faith in Allah helped me make it through the pain” and someone else may say “I used Yoga….” etc. NONE of us try to change anyone’s ideas, thoughts or beliefs, but we try to support each other, in different stages of grief and recovering from this devestating emotional injury which is imposed upon us by being victims of people without conscience, without remorse, and who are geneticly programmed NOT to be able to care about others.

    How you grow up is not 100% how you were raised, there is a genetic component–just like you can raise a tiger to be a house pet, but when it grows up, it WILL BE A TIGER, not a house cat. It is geneticly programmed to be a tiger.

    There is valid scientific evidences to support the things I am saying, these are not just opinons that I picked out of the air.

    You may disagree with me, and that is your right. You may ignore the evidence that the world is round and say it is flat, but that does NOT change the shape of the world.

    While learning about how in general the psychopaths think and behave, there are some “signs” in behaviors that point to this personality disorder. Our purpose in this group is to support each other for healing and in learning how to “spot” those behaviors in other people we encounter in our lives so that we are not ever again prey for these people.

    In other words, we are like a flock of sheep having a seminar on how to identify a wolf from a shitzu so that none of us ever again get driven into a corner and eaten alive.

    We’re here for a positive purpose not just to sling word salad.

  5. Artfldogr says:

    i am not disagreeing with you on most of your points

    however, the starter here was talking about class she teaches and how she is projecting her view.

    NONE of us try to change anyone’s ideas, thoughts or beliefs,

    if one is skewing the work towards some personal side and they are in a trusted position to be educating then indoctrinating is not what they should be doing (despite the teachers meeting asserting that way way back)

    and one of the reasons i floated on through is i have had some real good experiences with such people. (sarcasm)

    you see the socialists in the new york school system thought it would be good to alleviate tabula rasa by taking the smartest kids from the EP class and putting them in the NOVA class. this was late 60s early 70s when such ideological things started allowing them to experiment.

    later in my life, by dumb accident i ended up too close to one and didnt realize what i had. she ended up faking her murder… that destroyed my career… and i got to know how our police system really works… she showed up a year later before murder charges were leveled on me… but my career was over… later she took off… though i had shared custody… at some point she took my son, and two more kids and went and robbed a bank. she served almost two years for that.

    i have known a few more…

    i am not a sucker for them, i see em coming but sometimes your stuck on the tracks… early, when i was young, i accepted a bit of the ideology… who knew that anti-elitisms result would be not to have common sense to throw garbage out of your life and rationalize guilt through association away.

    you may treat em, i lived with one…

    There is valid scientific evidences to support the things I am saying, these are not just opinons that I picked out of the air.

    i am sure. i work in a medical library.. was a bronx science attendee… dont sleep much and have read papers copiously since i was a child. i am also a musician, an artist (signed to an agency), and generally make my living writing and designing systems. to which i am working with a geneticist.

    though i didnt think any of that really mattered to the discussion… but everyone here seems to love argument through authority. which is exactly the complaint about ideology. its life through authority.

    some people are experienced… my family came from latvia.. my other side slovakia…

    maybe some people have some knowlege from dealing with politics and they passed them on before families died. maybe they are here alive in the US because they unlike most people they werent sensitive or gullible to the ideology,

    While learning about how in general the psychopaths think and behave, there are some “signs” in behaviors that point to this personality disorder.

    oh. definitely… but the signs she gave were more for antipersonal disorder or for clinical sociopaths and psycopahts who are the kind that you know about from prison studies.

    they arent the kinds like a distant cousin who was subclinical and definitely wouldnt have been detected by ANY of her points.

    but the points that i know about like a lot of charm, coolness, glib, social, predatory… and a few others that i learned the hard way… laughs timing is wrong… carco cult mentality… going through the motions for appearances… the taking up of positions where authority is to be listened to without question….. like religious leaders, police, politicians, doctors, even shrinks… (the msm version of this that comes to mind is the doctor in the movie “there is somthing about mary” where he plants things in his patients mind)

    We’re here for a positive purpose not just to sling word salad.
    sorry… didnt mean to intrude… i should have floated by and rolled my eyes, and kept what i know to myself. in general thats what is best when people have admitted to ideology, they will defend that over reasoning some other thing. they build their lives around the framwork.

    you actually think that the germans wanted to do what they did? its a logical conclusion of the framework. its what happens when people live like that and are not free to let their minds form conclusions that the rules say they are not allowed to. it causes dissonance, so they obey the rules to avoid that.

    again.. i apologize… been there done that with all this years ago.. glad i have none of it in my life now, and plan to keep it that way.

  6. Artfldogr says:

    i meant to say antisocial disorder, not antipersonal. sorry.

    i will go now.. once again… sorry.

  7. LilOrphan says:

    Artfldogr:

    You are guilty of that which you claim to despise, and worse, you are not only blinded to your bias and indoctrination, you are belligerent in tactics used to explain your feelings, thoughts and position.

    There’s an obvious chip on your shoulder about education and degrees.

    There’s a “rolling eyes” attitude towards what you see as others espousing an ideology over reasoning, and yet, respectfully, none of your posts in this thread show much reasoning.

    Fascism is wrongly defined in your posts. For a very broad definition:

    “Various scholars attribute different characteristics to fascism, but the following elements are usually seen as its integral parts: patriotism, nationalism, statism, militarism, totalitarianism, anti-communism, corporatism, populism, collectivism, autocracy and opposition to political and economic liberalism”

    All of this elements we currently see in our political atmosphere, even the opposition to political and economic liberalism espoused by you.

    The Sanger quote was a bastardization of her words, too. She did not want the blacks to believe that birth control was meant as a way to ween-out the black population and felt that religious leaders, who were trusted, could help them realize that.

    She never said that this was the plan. Not in that quote, nor anywhere else. That was your extrapolation from the quote, and a major leap, if you ask me.

    Be that all as it may, above all – you entered into a forum that you did not even take the time to explore, research, discover and attempt to understand – and you came in with a bias and agenda of your own. One that you took no time or thought in implementing.

    And all to what end? To ridicule and judge people on issues that really hadn’t been raised, that were far afield from the original poster’s intended discussion about sociopaths and their creation, that served only to make you feel better about your own opinion?

    Pots, kettles. Glass houses and stones.

  8. OxDrover says:

    Well said Orphan. I’m not going to feed the troll any more.

  9. I am ending discussion on this topic.