Academic Publications

Reflections on race, personality, and crime

Whitney Threadcraft-Walkera | Howard Henderson


This article provides a critique of research claiming racial differences in antisocial and psychopathic personality disorders help explain racial disparities in crime. It argues this research conflates antisocial behavior with personality disorders, uses crime as a proxy for disorders, and overlooks environmental influences.

Key Takeaways

  • Research fails to differentiate between antisocial behavior, antisocial personality disorder (APD), and psychopathic personality disorder.
  • Equating personality disorders with criminal involvement is problematic; many psychopaths never commit crimes.
  • Environmental factors like exposure to violence better explain the development of disorders and crime across racial groups.
  • APD and psychopathic disorders are equally distributed across races; crime disparities stem more from social class and history.
  • Definitions of social deviance and disorder often reflect cultural biases against minorities.