Self-Control Versus Psychopathy: A Head-to-Head Test of General Theories of Antisociality

Matt DeLisi, Jennifer Tostlebe, Kyle Burgason, Mark Heirigs, Michael Vaughn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Self-control and psychopathy are prominent general theories of antisociality that, although present a very similar type of individual, have not often been studied in tandem, and few studies have conducted a head-to-head test of their association with serious delinquency and youth violence. Using a near census of institutionalized delinquents from Missouri, the current study found that both low self-control and psychopathy were significantly associated with various forms of delinquency and severe/chronic delinquency as measured by 90th percentile on the distribution. However, low self-control was associated with more forms of delinquency, and victimization and youth with the lowest levels of self-control were at greatest risk for pathological delinquency relative to those with the most psychopathic personality. Both self-control and psychopathy are essential for understanding the most severe variants of delinquency, and more head-to-head tests are encouraged to assess the strength of criminological theories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-76
Number of pages24
JournalYouth Violence and Juvenile Justice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • delinquents
  • general theory
  • juvenile justice
  • psychopathy
  • self-control
  • youth violence


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