Date of Award

Fall 12-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Forensic Psychology



First Advisor or Mentor

Diana Falkenbach

Second Reader

L. Thomas Kucharski

Third Advisor

Sean Murphy


Most psychopathy research focuses on its manifestation in forensic populations, however these results may not generalize onto noncriminal, or “successful,” psychopaths. Lykken (1995) conjectured that socialization may enable “heroes,” like law enforcement, to utilize the interpersonal and affective aspects of psychopathy in a manner that benefits society. Previous research (Falkenbach et al., 2018a) suggests that psychopathy and its correlates differ between police recruits and individuals in the community. It is necessary to continue this work with other groups in the police force to see if the patterns found in these studies generalize to veteran officers who have worked in law enforcement for longer periods of time. The objective of the present study was to gain a broader understanding of how police rank relates to personality. Self-report measures were used to see how different traits, such as aggression, behavioral inhibition/activation, empathy, narcissism, affect, and anxiety, related to factors of psychopathy and how they differed between police ranks. Self-report measures were administered to 1459 police officers, including recruits, officers, sergeants, lieutenants, detectives, and executives. The results indicate that the nomological net of Coldheartedness in the current sample is consistent with previous studies (Berg et al., 2015), and that police recruits have higher Self-Centered Impulsivity and lower Fearless Dominance scores than higher ranks. By furthering the research on psychopathy in noncriminal and pro-social populations, a more nuanced depiction of it can be developed. This will help with assessment and treatment of noncriminal psychopathy, and assist departments with better accounting for individual capabilities in job assignments.



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