Where Do Psychopaths Live? These Are the States With the Most Psychopaths in America
Ever found yourself wondering, “Where do psychopaths live?” In the same places as everybody else, it turns out. Perhaps there are a few people with this personality disorder in your neighborhood, especially if you live in one of the states with the highest population of psychopaths. No state wants this dubious honor. But recent research ranked all 50 states to find the most psychopathic.
Below, check out the 15 states with the highest populations of psychopaths — and see if your home state makes the list.
Arizona lands in the top 15 states with the most psychopaths in America. But what does that really mean? Quartz reports that Ryan Murphy, a researcher at Southern Methodist University, published the study that ranked all 50 states (and the District of Columbia) to find out which have the most psychopaths. The current study drew on previous research that estimated levels of the “big five” personality traits — extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience — in each state.
Next: This New England state also has a lot of psychopaths.
Massachusetts comes next on the list of the most psychopathic states, landing in fourteenth place. But if you live in Massachusetts — or one of the other states with a high number of psychopaths — what do you need to know? Scientific American reports that “With darkness in their hearts, ice water in their veins, and snake-charming smiles on their faces, psychopaths make up anywhere from 0.6% to 4% of the population.” That means that even if you live in a state with a relatively high number of psychopaths, they still aren’t incredibly common.
Next: Not far away, this mid-Atlantic state is also one of the most psychopathic.
Delaware falls in thirteenth place on the list of the most psychopathic states. That means that in Delaware, there are more people whose brains look different from what you’d see inside the head of the average person. Scientific American reports that a psychopath’s brain has a smaller prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that regulates behavior, impulse control, and planning. Psychopaths also have a deformed amygdala, the part of the brain that deals with negative emotions such as fear, guilt, and sadness.
Next: Across the country, this midwestern state also has a lot of psychopaths.
12. South Dakota
Meanwhile, across the country from Delaware, South Dakota landed in twelfth place thanks to its estimated number of psychopaths. If you live in South Dakota, what should you look out for? Scientific American reports that wherever they live, psychopaths have three distinct traits. They have “fearless dominance,” which means that they can do whatever they want “without the pesky hindrance of conscience.” Psychopaths also exhibit “self-centered impulsivity,” doing whatever they want, whenever they want. They also show “low autonomic arousal,” which means they’re physiologically different from non-psychopaths. In fact, they have lower resting heart rates than “regular” people.
Next: This mid-Atlantic state has a lot of psychopaths, too.
Next, we head back to the mid-Atlantic, where Maryland earned 11th place among the states with the most psychopaths in America. A startling fact to keep in mind, whether you live in Maryland or elsewhere is that psychopathy isn’t a defined or diagnosable illness, according to the medical community. The Verge reports that psychopathy doesn’t exist in the DSM-5, or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. That’s in large part because many of the associated traits — including narcissism, sadism, and anti-social behavior — appear in other disorders, too. And that brings us to the overlap between psychopathy and sociopathy.
Next: Where do psychopaths live? Here are the top 10 states.
Virginia has the dubious honor of landing in the top 10 most psychopathic states in the nation, taking 10th place with its estimated number of psychopaths. The Conversation reports that psychopaths and sociopaths share a variety of characteristics, including a deceitful and manipulative nature that enables them to disregard other people. However, sociopaths are less emotionally stable and highly impulsive, acting on compulsion, while psychopaths plan their actions (and crimes) down to the smallest detail to avoid detection.
Next: Psychopaths also live in this midwestern state.
Illinois also landed in the top 10 states with the most psychopaths, earning ninth place among the most psychopathic states. In Illinois and elsewhere, there’s another fact you should know about psychopaths, according to The Conversation. “Psychopaths are born, and sociopaths are made,” the publication notes. The cause of psychopaths’ anti-social personality disorder is hereditary. But sociopaths’ behaviors are the result of a brain injury or abuse or neglect in childhood. Either one can become violent, or can live a “normal” life without anyone else realizing that they have a personality disorder.
Next: This western state has psychopathic tendencies.
Residents of Nevada, look out: Your state also makes the top 10 most psychopathic states, landing in eighth place. But if you’re feeling nervous because you live in Nevada (or another state on the list), it’s important to keep things in perspective. As Psychology Today points out, most psychopaths aren’t murderers or other criminals. Conversely, that means that they’re often tough to detect. If just 1% of the population meets the criteria for psychopathy, that means that 1 out of every 100 people you know is a psychopath. And that percentage doubles or quadruples when you’re talking about people in high-power positions, such as business leaders, lawyers, or surgeons.
Next: Many psychopaths live in this midwestern state.
Wisconsin came next on the list, landing in seventh place among the most psychopathic states across America. But no matter how many psychopaths are in your state, Psychology Today reports that you can spot them by looking out for three personality characteristics. Psychopaths exhibit Machiavellianism, meaning that they manipulate others as they pursue money and power (or just for fun). They also show a lack of a conscience or an absence of empathy. Psychopaths also have high levels of narcissism, which usually means that they don’t get along well with others.
Next: This New England state ranks as one of the most psychopathic.
Next on the list? Maine, which earned sixth place among the states with the most psychopaths. In Maine and elsewhere, however, not all psychopaths become criminals. According to the British Psychological Society, “not all psychopaths are violent criminals. Many of them live inconspicuously amongst us.” You might like to think that psychopaths who don’t commit crimes are nothing like the psychopaths who do. But according to the society, researchers have shown that criminal and non-criminal psychopaths share the same neuropsychological profile. Some may become criminals thanks to their backgrounds, such as a lack of early parental supervision, deprivation, or even having a convicted parent.
Next: This western state surprised researchers by making the top five.
Surprised to see Wyoming land in the top five most psychopathic states? So were the researchers behind the study, who noted that it scores a whole lot higher than its neighbors. (Montana landed in 43rd place, Idaho took 24th, Colorado earned 19th, Utah earned 22nd, South Dakota came in 13th, and Nebraska landed in 37th place.) Perhaps Wyoming just has a larger proportion of people who struggle to use their emotions — like regret — to change their behavior, which some researchers theorize is what’s really going on with psychopaths, according to Quartz.
Next: Many psychopaths call this mid-Atlantic state home.
4. New York
New York also lands in the top five among the states with the most psychopaths. Ever wonder what life is like for psychopaths? According to Quartz, researchers have found that the higher someone scores on the psychopathy spectrum, the less happy they tend to be. Even though they do what they want, without concern for others, psychopaths seem to be less satisfied with their lives — and more likely to be depressed — than people without psychopathic tendencies.
Next: This nearby state also ranks as one of the most psychopathic.
3. New Jersey
Ever dealt with New Jersey traffic? Then it may or may not surprise you that the state lands in third place for the highest number of psychopaths. Quartz reports that one reason why psychopaths tend to be unhappy is that they have trouble forming strong social relationships, no matter how much they can charm others on a superficial level. Psychopaths can show concern for others when they’re motivated, and they can learn to behave in ways that would improve their social relationships. That, in turn, can make them happier. In other words, everybody likes having friends — even psychopaths.
Next: Across the country, this west-coast state has even more psychopaths than New Jersey.
Think life in California is too laidback for psychopaths? Think again. The state lands in second place among the most psychopathic states. Though psychopaths aren’t common — even in California, so don’t worry too much if you live in the golden state — they do have a scary impact on society. According to The Atlantic, “While adult psychopaths constitute only a tiny fraction of the general population, studies suggest that they commit half of all violent crimes.”
Next: This New England state is the most psychopathic of all.
If you live in Connecticut, you may want to watch your back! The state earns the dubious honor of coming in first among the most psychopathic states. But can something be done about psychopaths, in Connecticut and elsewhere? As The Atlantic notes, researchers can successfully identify children who are likely to display psychopathic traits later in life. And they’ve developing clinical tactics that may be able to pull those children back from the edge of psychopathy. “With each passing year, both nature and nurture conspire to steer a callous child toward psychopathy and block his exits to a normal life.” Researchers are working on ways to counter those forces — which could translate to a lower prevalence of psychopaths in the future.
Read more: 7 Signs That You May Be a Sociopath
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