The Personality Traits that Are Important Sources of Criminality

The Personality Traits that Are Important Sources of Criminality

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A criminal activity takes place when there is a means, motive, and opportunity. Criminal personality is the notion that criminals tend to have personality traits that are specific and predictable. Eysenck theorized that criminals tend to exhibit specific behavior patterns, have a genetic basis for the traits and that the formation of their conscience might be faulty. This essay discusses the personality traits of low self-control, psychopathy, and difficult temperament as important sources of criminality.

Low Self-Control

Research suggests that low self-control is directly associated with criminal involvement. According to empirical evidence, low self-control is linked with delinquency involvement, antisocial behavior, and violence. People that have low self-control tend to be more self-centered, irresponsible, impulsive, prone to risky behavior, and exhibit volatile temperaments. Studies have found that among institutionalized delinquents, parolees, and jail inmates. Low self-control is a classic predictor of maladaptive behavior such as theft, abuse, robbery, property offending, among others. According to research, low self-control raises the likelihood of a person engaging in criminal behavior when presented with a viable opportunity. Furthermore, more studies agree that people that have low self-control are more likely to take part in a wider range of criminal activities such as associating with gangs, computer-related crimes, and antisocial behavior (Eysenck, 2017). Such individuals tend to be less bothered with the long-term consequences of their actions and are more likely to partake in activities that grant them instant gratification, such as fraud-related activities and shoplifting.


Psychopathy is another personality trait that has been linked with criminality. It is a clinical construct linked with behavioral and emotional disturbance, which are deemed significant risk factors for antisocial behavior, sexual recidivism, criminal recidivism, and instrumental violence. According to Hare’s psychopathy Checklist, people with a high psychopathy measure are more likely to be irresponsible, short-tempered, callous, egocentric, violate social harm frequently, display superficial charm, and lack the ability to show empathy (Tharshini, Ibrahim, Kamaluddin, Rathakrishnan, & Che Mohd Nasir, 2021). Additionally, people with psychopathic personality traits tend to be impulsive, manipulative, have low self-regulation, and are unable to feel guilt or remorse. Evidence points out that there are major differences between the crimes carried out by psychopathic males and females. Compared to their male counterparts, female psychopaths are less aggressive and rarely repeat their criminal behavior.

Difficult Temperament

Criminals also tend to have a difficult temperament. A person’s temperament is defined as their individual characteristic that entails a habitual emotional response to specific stimulus. A person’s temperament is a reflection of the baseline differences in the nervous system that involves components like variance in activity level, mood, and emotionality, self-regulation and withdrawal behaviors. Evidence points out that people with difficult temperaments encounter anxiety disorders, mood disorders, disruptive behavior disorders, major depression disorders, and drug abuse. Furthermore, temperamental deficits tend to contribute to violence/crime among adolescents.


In closing, criminal behavior has been linked with personality traits of psychopathy, self-control and difficult temperament. While there are many factors that inform criminal behavior, these three traits tend to be significant driving factors. These personality traits have a role in escalating the risk of criminal behavior involvement. Worth noting, not all people that these personality traits tend to be at high risk of becoming offenders. Moving forward, practitioners and stakeholders need to collaborate with the criminal justice system in identifying potential offenders early enough and give them treatment as a preventative measure to curb crime rates.


Eysenck, H. J. (2017). Personality and criminality: A dispositional analysis. Advances in criminological theory, 89-110.

Tharshini, N. K., Ibrahim, F., Kamaluddin, M. R., Rathakrishnan, B., & Che Mohd Nasir, N. (2021). The link between individual personality traits and criminality: a systematic review. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(16), 8663.