Murphy also included the District of Columbia in his research, and found it had a psychopathy level far higher than any other state. But this finding is an outlier, as Murphy notes, as it’s an entirely urban area and cannot be fairly compared with larger, more geographically diverse, US states. That said, as Murphy notes, “The presence of psychopaths in District of Columbia is consistent with the conjecture found in Murphy (2016) that psychopaths are likely to be effective in the political sphere.”
Surprised? I didn’t think so. But still, fun to get some scientific confirmation.
The study is called Psychopathy By State, conducted by Ryan Murphy. He surveyed samples from the lower 48 states and Washington D.C. to find the prevalence of personality traits which correspond to psychopathy.
The personality traits generally corresponding to psychopathy are low neuroticism, high extraversion, low agreeableness, and low conscientiousness.
Of course, D.C. came in first by far. But as he notes, that this is not exactly a fair comparison, as it is a city being compared to entire states. The study finds that urban areas, in general, correspond to more psychopathic personality traits.
Another interesting finding is that a higher concentration of lawyers predicts higher psychopathy prevalence. I kid you not.
So removing D.C. can you guess which states come in the top three? I bet you can.
- New Jersey
New York ties for the fourth highest concentration of psychopaths among U.S. states. Interestingly, it ties with Wyoming… which I would not have expected. But the author notes there was a relatively small sample surveyed from Wyoming.
The least psychopathic states are:
- West Virginia
- North Carolina
- New Mexico
And it should not be surprising that the main correlation was that state with the lowest percentage of people living in urban areas also had the lowest concentration of psychopaths.
Perhaps psychopaths need to be around more victims, or constantly switch out their friends and acquaintances as they become wise to their antisocial behaviors. Note that antisocial does not mean loner, it means lacking empathy, remorse, and behaving in a manipulative way that hurts others.
It is possible that psychopaths are more easily recognized and ostracized in smaller communities and rural settings. Since humans could speak, gossip has been a regulator of social behavior. This has its benefits and detriments of course.
But to be clear, the paper is not so much identifying where all the psychopaths live, as much as identifying general population traits which correspond to psychopathy.