Types of Crimes:  The Relationship Between Narcissistic and Antisocial Personalities

Abbey Sereno

Saint Bonaventure University











Warren, Burnette, South, Chauhan, Bale, and Friend (2002) identify six diagnostic patterns in incarcerated violent male offenders, including: “antisocial-narcissistic, paranoid-antisocial, borderline-antisocial-passive-aggressive…” but failed to look at different types of crimes committed.  The following study was designed to observe the relationship between crime type, Narcissistic Personality, and Antisocial Personality.  Part I offenses, or Index crimes, are defined as crimes committed against the person or those crimes committed against property (Adler et al., 2001).  Part II offenses are considered those crimes that do not fall within the two categories of the Part I offenses (Adler et al., 2001).  A 2 (crime type) x 2 (level of narcissism) x 2 (level of antisocial personality) factorial was designed and proposed an interaction.  Type one crimes will most likely be committed by high narcissistic, high antisocial personalities and least likely committed by low narcissist, low antisocial personalities.  Part two crimes are most likely to be committed by individuals low in narcissism and low in antisocial personalities and least likely by high narcissist, high antisocial personalities.  The predicted interaction was obtained.  In addition, main effects were found for narcissism and level of sociability. 

Types of Crimes:  The Relationship Between Narcissistic and Antisocial Personalities  


            According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 4th edition (DSM-IV; APA, 1994), “The essential feature of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy that begins by early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts.”  Individuals diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder demonstrate signs of extreme self-involvement, and lack of interest in and empathy for others (McNeal, 2003).  Certain criteria were developed by Freud for the clinical use of the word narcissism (Raskin & Terry, 1988).  Self-admiration, vulnerabilities relating to self-esteem, defensiveness, drive for perfection, and feelings of entitlement are among the many behavioral occurrences Freud documented (Raskin et al., 1988).

            A narcissistic individual’s vulnerable self-esteem opens him or her up to distress from criticism or defeat (APA, 1994).  For this reason these individuals may react in an outrage or defiant counterattack.  Other personality disorders have been found to be associated with Narcissistic Personality Disorder including Borderline, Antisocial and Paranoid Personality Disorders (also known as Cluster B personality disorders) (APA, 1994).  Warren, Burnette, South, Chauhan, Bale & Friend (2002) have addressed the connections between various personality disorders and crime.  Warren and her colleagues indicated a significant association with various types of violent and nonviolent crimes and Cluster B Personality Disorders.  Furthermore, a positive correlation between Narcissistic Personality Disorder and incarceration for violent crimes has been found (Warren et al., 2002).        

            Research conducted by Bernard and Proulx (2002) shows that narcissistic offenders seek out power or status while trying to eliminate competition during their criminal activities.  This study also shows the narcissistic offenders are more likely to resist arrest when caught and tend to deny any use of violence (Bernard & Proulx, 2002).  The quest for power and prestige is consistent with the diagnostic criteria presented by the DSM-IV (APA, 1994).  Narcissistic individuals expect to be catered to and when this demand is not meet he or she may become furious potentially resulting in a criminal act (APA, 1994). 

            Antisocial Personality Disorder is one of the Cluster B personalities that have been involved in extensive research on a variety of topics.  The most vital characteristic of Antisocial Personality Disorder is, “a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood” (APA, 1994).  Individuals diagnosed with an antisocial personality often fail to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors resulting in repeated acts that result in his or her arrest.  These individuals tend to be deceitful and display disregard for the safety of themselves or others (APA, 1994).  The lack of remorse they exhibit is often coupled with their consistent irresponsibility and impulsivity.  Antisocial personalities have also been known to be irritable and aggressive (APA, 1994). 

            Research combining Antisocial Personality Disorder and crime and violence has found a positive relationship between Antisocial Personality Disorder and institutional violence (Warren et al., 2002).  Research has also found that female felons tend to have higher rates of Antisocial Personality Disorder as well as other disorders and dependencies (Warren et al., 2002).  A similar study dealing with incarcerated violent male offenders was able to identify six diagnostic patterns including: “antisocial-narcissistic, paranoid-antisocial, borderline-antisocial-passive-aggressive, borderline, compulsive-borderline and schizoid” (Warren et al., 2002).        

            A study done by Geberth and Turco (1997) examined the crime scene behaviors of serial murders.  Results identified styles and patterns in their killings that involved domination, control and humiliation and the murders were committed with little guilt or shame and total lack of remorse (Geberth & Turco, 1997).  These are common characteristics found in antisocial personalities.  This and other research has studied primarily convicted serial offenders (murders, rapists, arsonist ect.) and therefore this study examines similar topics using a university population. 

            Although Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder have commonalities in behavioral characteristics, individuals with antisocial personalities are more impulsive, aggressive, and deceitful than narcissistic individuals (APA, 1994). 

            Crime has been defined in many ways by different theorists throughout time.  Crime is, “an act in violation of law that causes harm, is identified by law, is committed with criminal intent, and is subject to punishment” (Adler, Mueller, & Lauger, 2001).  Gottfredson and Hirschi’s General Theory of Crime, or Self-Control Theory, is the basis for the connection between criminal behavior and narcissism (William & McShane, 1999).  The theory identifies individuals who commit crimes have certain traits, among them impulsivity, insensitivity, self-centeredness, and lower then average intelligence.  The act of committing a crime contains attractiveness that is seen to entice those individuals who have a tendency to commit crime due to the promise of pleasure (Williams & McShane, 1999).  Individuals diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder show common characteristics as those individuals Gottfredson and Hirschi describe as likely to engage in criminal activity.  The insensitivity and self-centeredness of those individuals likely to commit crimes are common traits seen in narcissistic and antisocial individuals.       

            The Unified Crime Report has divided offenses into two categories which include Part I offenses and Part II offenses (Adler, Mueller, & Laufer, 2001).  Part I offenses, or Index crimes, are defined as crimes committed against the person and include: criminal homicide, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) or those crimes committed against property and include:  burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson (Adler et al., 2001).  Part II offenses are considered those crimes that do not fall within the two categories of the Part I offenses.  Part II offenses include: fraud, embezzlement, weapon offenses, and vandalism but exclude any traffic violations.  Due to the seriousness of Index crimes, they are more readily reported to authorities and therefore more often used in research (Adler et al., 2001).    

            This study was designed to examine the relationship between type of crime committed and type of personality.  A 2 (crime type) x 2 (level of narcissism) x 2 (level of antisocial personality) interaction is predicted.  Type one crimes will most likely be committed by high narcissistic and high antisocial personalities and least likely committed by low narcissist and low antisocial personalities.  Part two crimes are most likely to be committed by individuals low in narcissism and low in antisocial personalities and least likely by high narcissist and high antisocial personalities. 




Participants and Procedure

            One-hundred college age students served as participants (N=100).  The sample of students was recruited from Saint Bonaventure University.  The participants ranged in age from seventeen to twenty-three and were of various ethnicities.  All participants were administered the forty item NPI to assess from degree of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  Participants were also given a list of crimes and asked to check all the crimes they had committed, not necessarily been caught for.  At the duration of the study all participating students received extra credit in various courses.  The amount of extra credit was determined by the individual professors. 


The Measurement of Narcissistic Personality

            The forty item NPI was administered in order to obtain scores for all seven components of the inventory.  Justification for the use of the NPI was found in several validation studies previously done (Emmons, 1984; Raskin et al., 1988; Watson et al., 1984).  Emmons (1984) did a study comparing his four factor version of the NPI (Raskin et al., 1979) with other personality tests (Emmons, 1984). 

            A similar study was done the same year by Watson and his colleagues (1984) concerned with narcissism and empathy.  The study compared the NPI (Raskin et al., 1979) with the NPDS in attempts to demonstrate the validity of the NPI (Watson et al., 1984).  This study explored the construct validity of the Narcissistic Personality Inventory by looking at correlations between it and questionnaire measures of empathy.  The hypothesis and construct validity was supported (Watson et al., 1984). 

            There have been several attempts to develop a measurement to accurately assess narcissism.  The Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) and the Rorschach Inkblot Test were explored (Emmons, 1984).  The Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) will be used to assess narcissistic traits and to explore the envy, arrogance, explosiveness and sense of entitlement associated with it (Raskin & Hall, 1981; Watson, Sawrie, Greene, & Arredondo, 2002).  The NPI was designed by Raskin and Hall (1979) to measure individual differences in narcissism (Emmons, 1987).  The questionnaire consisted of fifty-four items derived from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-III) criteria for narcissistic personality disorder (Emmons, 1987; Emmons, 1984).  The seven components of Raskin and Hall’s scale are: Authority, Exhibitionism, Superiority, Entitlement, Exploitativeness, Self-Sufficiency, and Vanity (Raskin et al., 1979).

            A scale developed by Raskin and Terry (1988) was used to determine the levels of narcissism for participating individuals.  Raskin and Terry (1988) developed mean averages for the Narcissistic Personality Inventory scores based on gender by administering the NPI to over a thousand individuals.  Using this mean, a male scoring above 16.5 is considered high in narcissism and a male scoring below 16.5 is considered low in narcissism.  Females scoring above 14.72 are said to be high in narcissism and those females scoring below 14.72 are considered low in narcissism (Raskin & Terry, 1988).     

Measurement of Antisocial Personality

            The Antisocial Personality Questionnaire (APQ) was given to all participants to assess for levels of Antisocial Personality.  The 125-item, self-report inventory that measures eight primary traits and two higher order dimensions of Antisocial Personality.  The eight primary traits include: self-control, self-esteem, avoidance, paranoid suspicion, resentment, aggression, deviance, and extraversion (Blackburn, 1999).  The two higher order dimensions being dealt with are: impulsivity-aggression versus control and withdrawal versus sociability (Blackburn, 1999). The APQ was developed using a population of violent offenders, but can be used with a general population (Blackburn, 1999).   

Measurement of Crime

            All participants were asked to complete a checklist of crimes they have committed, but not necessarily caught for (Table 2).  The crimes they check will then be broken into Part one and Part two offenses in order to see which are more likely committed by narcissistic individuals.  A list of total number of crimes committed by each individual will also be compiled in order to assess for the number of crimes committed by individuals high and low in narcissism.    












            The results found are consistent with predictions.  For type one offenses, a mean of 99.6 was found for those individuals high in both antisocial and narcissistic personalities.  A mean of 48.2 was found for those individuals high in antisocial personalities and low in narcissistic personalities.  The mean for high narcissists, low antisocial personalities was found to be 43.9, while a mean of 34.2 was found for those individuals exhibiting both low antisocial and narcissistic personalities (see table 2).  For type two offenses, individuals high in both narcissistic and antisocial personalities had an average of 15.6.  A mean of 21.5 was found for those who are high in antisocial and low in narcissistic personalities.  The mean for high narcissists, low antisocial personalities was found to be 38.6, while a mean of 15.5 was found for those individuals exhibiting both low antisocial and narcissistic personalities (see table 3).

The interaction indicates that type of crime depends on levels of narcissism and antisocial personalities.  A 2x2x2 interaction was observed such that type one crimes were committed by those individuals high in both antisocial and narcissistic personalities (see figure 1); type two crimes were more likely to be committed by low antisocial, high narcissists, F(1,72)=58.3,p<.0001.  (see figure 2).

In addition, a main effect was found for narcissism such that the high narcissist were more likely to commit crime then the low narcissist F(1,72)=71.17, p<.0001; a main effect for antisocial revealed that high antisocial were more likely then low antisocial to commit crimes F(1,72)=32.24, p<.0001.  The main effect for crime indicated that more part one offenses are likely to be committed F(1,72)=210.64, p<.0001. 




            The central purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between type of crimes committed and different types of personalities.  The above findings reflect a substantial association between Narcissistic and Antisocial Personalities and type of crimes committed.  The strength of these associations suggest that the chronic and persistent nature of narcissism and antisocial personalities, including impulsivity, recklessness, and lack of empathy have contributed to the criminal outcomes associated with these behaviors.

            As in other studies, Antisocial Personality Disorder was a common diagnoses present in incarcerated violent offenders (Warren et al., 2002).  The results of this study suggest that the sense of entitlement, grandiosity, interpersonal exploitativeness, lack of empathy, and envy that characterize this disorder may be correlates of violent behavior (Warren et al., 2002).

            These findings highlight the relevance of personality disorders to understanding the criminal and violent acts perpetrated by those who commit crimes.  The results of the current study suggest that those individuals exhibiting high levels of both antisocial and narcissistic personalities are the best predictors of who will commit the majority of part two offenses.  Based on this and other studies, these are the individuals most often incarcerated for violent crimes (Warren et al., 2002; Mamak, 1998).  It is also suggested by the data that narcissism is the best overall predictor of crime.

            This study concentrated on the difference between part one and part two offenses because no research of this nature has been done.  The results found in this study could prove beneficial to the forensic psychology population in that it predicts the type of individual that will commit certain types of crimes.  It was already known that there are different types of criminals but this research identifies the types of personalities that are associated with certain types of crimes. 

            Additional research in this area that I would like to look at deals with the differences between male and female narcissistic and antisocial individuals.  There has been some research on the difference between the male and female violent offenders but I am more interested in what types of crimes males and females with variations in narcissistic and antisocial personalities will commit. 




















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Table 1.  Main effect and interaction table

















Narcissism * Antisocial




Narcissism * Crime




Antisocial * Crime




Narcissism * Antisocial * Crime





Table 2. Mean average for part one offenses


Part One



High Antisocial

Low Antisocial

High Narcissism



Low Narcissism




Table 3. Mean averages for part two offenses


Part Two Offenses



High Antisocial

Low Antisocial

High Narcissism



Low Narcissism











Figure Caption

Figure 1. The Relationship Between Narcissism and Antisocial Personalities: Part One Offenses  

Figure 2. The Relationship Between Narcissism and Antisocial Personalities: Part Two Offenses  




























Criminal Activities Checklist

Instructions: Indicate, on the line provided, the number of times you have participated in each of the listed activities. 

  1. Paid for something with a check when                                      

      you knew there was not enough money in                                                          ______

      your account to cover it.                                                          

  1. Received property that you knew was stolen                                                     ______
  2. Forcibly had sex with another individual

      without his or her consent                                                                                  ______

  1. Damaged or destroyed someone else’s property                                               ______
  2. Sold firearms without having a license to do so                                      ______
  3. Printed counterfeit money                                                                                  ______
  4. Broke into a building or residence with the                                                         ______

       intent to take something that was not yours

  1. Attempted to cause bodily injury to someone                                                     ______
  2. Taken or borrowed cable without paying for it                                       ______
  3. Intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or

      negligently caused death to another human being                                                ______

  1. Carried or used and unregistered weapon                                                          ______
  2. Provided a false form of identification                                                    ______
  3. Taken something from a store without paying for it                                             ______
  4. Took a car, without the owners permission                                                        ______
  5. Threatened to hurt someone                                                                              ______