Serial Homicide Perpetrators’ Self-Reported Psychopathy and Criminal Thinking

  • Scott E. CulhaneEmail author
  • Stephannie Walker
  • Meagen M. Hildebrand


The current research reports 61 male serial murderers’ responses to self-report questionnaires designed to assess levels of psychopathy and criminal thinking. Three separate measures of psychopathy were included. Contrary to our predictions, results indicated that our sample of serial murderers did not demonstrate strong evidence of psychopathy. Rather, the percentage of inmates who could be classified as having psychopathic tendencies is on par with the general population of prisoners. Only half of the participants had an interpretable criminal thinking style scale. Temperament and power issues were the two factors of greatest significance for understanding the serial homicide perpetrators’ criminal cognition. In line with expectations, multiple significant correlations were observed for the measures. Implications and limitations of the research are discussed.


Serial murder Psychopathy Criminal thinking PICTS PPI-R 



Thanks are extended to Adrienne Freng for her assistance in the development of the project and to Kathyrn Nicola, Janelle Klemm, Alicia Young, Ellen Watson, Rebecca Luze, and Alek Johnson for their assistance in data collection.

Funding Information

This research was supported in part by the President Tom Buchanan’s Foundation Fund at the University of Wyoming, the Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office at the University of Wyoming, and the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Wyoming.


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Copyright information

© Society for Police and Criminal Psychology 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Scott E. Culhane
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stephannie Walker
    • 2
  • Meagen M. Hildebrand
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Criminal JusticeAustin Peay State UniversityClarksvilleUSA
  2. 2.Wake Forest School of MedicineWake Forest UniversityWinston-SalemUSA
  3. 3.Department of Criminal JusticeUniversity of WyomingLaramieUSA

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