The Hare Psychopathy Checklist with 20 Most Common Traits of a Psychopath

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Hare Psychopathy Checklist

Here is an adapted version of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, which can help you find out that someone you know might be a psychopath.

The term ‘psychopath’ was first coined in the mid- to late 1800s, and comes from the Greek psykhe and pathos, which mean ‘sick mind’ or ‘suffering soul.’

In those days, psychopathy was considered to be a sort of moral insanity, but of course, nowadays, we know better.

However, are we right to think of psychopaths as lone killers, devoid of humanity, preying on the vulnerable, who find it hard to mix with society? The truth is that you could have one as a friend, boss or even a partner. Psychopaths live among us and manage to blend into society, but you can spot them if you look hard enough.

First, you have to change the way you think about people and how we operate as human beings. It is normal to believe that everyone else on the planet is like us, in that, they think like us, feel the same emotions like us, and understand pain and loss like we do. It is important to understand that for a few percentage of the population, this is not true. These are people that do not have empathy or remorse, cannot feel emotion, whose only goal is to take advantage of others.

These are the psychopaths, and as with any mental disorder, there are characteristics that define it. The most common way of detecting whether a person is a psychopath is by using The Hare Psychopathy Checklist -Revised (PCL-R), which is a diagnostic tool, set to determine if someone is on the psychopathy spectrum.

On the checklist are 20 traits which each have a score between 0 – 2, the highest mark someone can achieve therefore being 40. In the US, if someone rates over 30 in the test, they are said to be psychopathic, but in the UK, it is only over 25.

The twenty traits on the Hare Psychopathy checklist are:

  1. pathological lying
  2. glib and superficial charm
  3. grandiose sense of self
  4. need for stimulation
  5. cunning and manipulative
  6. lack of remorse or guilt
  7. shallow emotional response
  8. callousness and lack of empathy
  9. parasitic lifestyle
  10. poor behavioral controls
  11. sexual promiscuity
  12. early behavior problems
  13. lack of realistic long-term goals
  14. impulsivity
  15. irresponsibility
  16. failure to accept responsibility
  17. many short-term marital relationships
  18. juvenile delinquency
  19. revocation of conditional release
  20. criminal versatility

The Hare Psychopathy Checklist -Revised (PCL-R) categorizes these traits into four factors: interpersonal, emotional, lifestyle and antisocial.


The most common trait of a psychopath is their pathological lying. This is so that they can cover up their behaviour and get their own way.

Psychopaths use glibness and superficial charm to get you hooked in the first place. Once they have you under their spell, you are more likely to be willing to help them.

You’ll find many psychopaths in positions of great power and authority, this is due to their enormous sense of self-worth.

It is their manipulative behaviour that probably got them into these positions in the first place.


The most emotional characteristic is a complete lack of remorse or guilt. This could explain why psychopathic killers get away with their crimes as they simply do not care.

Some psychopaths may feel shallow emotions, in that they might feel sorry that their victim is dead because it no longer holds any pleasure for them.

More often a psychopath will be callous and show a distinct lack of empathy towards their victims.

Failure to accept responsibility for their own acts is another common trait for a psychopath.


You can also see psychopathic traits in the lifestyles of psychopaths. A common trait is the parasitic way they will feed off other people to sustain their lifestyle.

Psychopaths also have a need for stimulation which might lead them to behaving with impulsivity and acting in an irresponsible way.

Typically a psychopath will have no realistic, long-term goals, instead preferring to live in the moment.


Despite many psychopaths holding down impressive jobs, they do not have good social skills.

They find it hard to control their behaviour in public which could lead to a revoking of their parole.

Psychopaths are known to be particularly versatile in many areas of different crimes. This makes it difficult to catch them.

Diagnosing a psychopath

Even if you have the Hare Psychopathy Checklist in your arsenal, diagnosing someone in your life who you think is a psychopath is a very serious step. It has implications either way, whether you are right or wrong. It is better to leave any diagnosing to the professionals who are trained to spot the subtle signs of psychopathy, something that non-professionals might easily miss.


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Janey D.

Janey Davies has been published online for over 8 years. She is the head writer for, she also writes for, and has contributed to She has an Honours Degree in Psychology and her passions include learning about the mind, popular science and politics. When she is relaxing she likes to walk her dog, read science fiction and listen to Muse.

Copyright © 2018 Learning Mind. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, contact us.


  1. Julie May 1, 2018 at 5:55 pm - Reply

    This is very incorrect, to state that psychopaths do not have good social skills, maybe if there was a low IQ.

    But the worse kind of Psychopath, are that cunning & manipulative that they have everyone around them completely fooled, into thinking they are something they are not generally a perfect person.

    They have excellent social skills & have a different mask for each & every person in their life.

    They usually have many at times hundreds of loyal family & friends whom believe their lies & masks & are more than willing to defend them & even antognise their chosen victim.

  2. unkwoun June 23, 2018 at 9:15 am - Reply

    i had fought really hard with a phycopath and sent him out of area is there chances of him to harm the victim now also and how to prevent that

    • Unknown August 19, 2018 at 6:28 am - Reply


    • B August 19, 2018 at 9:03 am - Reply

      No there is no chance of him harming u. He dosent want to harm u.

  3. Jacob July 5, 2018 at 8:00 pm - Reply

    When I was growing up, i held true to the MacDonald triad, that being a list of three traits shared by 95% of all serial killers. I wet the bed far into my early teens, I loved to play with fire and burnt myself a few times doing it, and I felt it was completely normal to abuse/kill animals. I was a pathological liar, emotionally manipulative and controlling, but well spoken. I was a true sociopath on the verge of turning psychopath, as I regularly fantasized and meditated killing everyone, that including myself. I viewed living things as objects which I could and should manipulate, and if they caused me problems they were merely obstacles.

    But I accidentally stumbled upon a cure for (at least) my own socio/psychopathism around the age of 14. I first introduced myself to natural psycho-stimulants, initially weed, and then psilocybin mushrooms. I then discovered atheism, which exposed me to intellectual standards, skepticism, and introspective psycho-analyzation, which caused me to run my behavior through a series of tests in order to recognize self-destructive behavior. This stimulation of my conscious intellect led to the developing of an internal therapist, which actively searched for predictable behavior and wisdom, which consoled and subdued my mentally unhealthy subconscious. I effectively seperated my conscious and subconscious minds from one another, with the longterm goal of consciously controlling all of my behavior, or taking control of my behavior from my subconscious. Because of this, my life took a 180 degree shift, as I’m now a self-made philosopher with a deepened appreciation for science and wisdom. I’m morally focused, I repurposed my manipulative skills to analyze and educate the people around me, and I’ve become an excellent problem solver. I went from wanting to act out emotional impulses and kill everyone to consciously controlling my behavior and loving all living things.

    Weed, shrooms, and atheism literally made me a better person.

    • Ricky July 30, 2018 at 7:01 am - Reply

      Very interesting. Something similar happened to me. After all these decades I haven’t killed anybody. At least not yet.

    • Celeste August 1, 2018 at 2:07 am - Reply

      I am interested, Jacob, if you know or have theories about why you became “sociopathic.” Nature or nurture? I suspect it’s most often both. In my own case, I lacked empathy for humans, not animals. This is at least partly because I was much abused by humans, including my own parents. I went through a period of fantasizing a lot about hurting people — and I’m female. But I also think I inherited some potentially sociopathic genes, from my father, who was the main source of my angst and fury. I’ve had to do some pretty serious reparenting of myself, and I’m glad to say I too mostly love people these days. I’m not sure if my situation describes true sociopathy or not. There were many times in my life, though, where I lacked empathy, and didn’t care about people’s feelings as I should have, because no one had ever cared about mine; I was clueless that way. I do suspect that most of us have some sociopathic tendencies though, and that empathy can be learned (by some, not all).

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