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District of Columbia 'Far More Psychopathic' Than Rest of U.S., Study Finds

A recent study by Ryan Murphy at Southern Methodist University attempted to quantify psychopathic disorders and to rank states according to the number of psychopaths each likely has.

In the study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, Murphy considered the "big five" personality traits by state: extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience. Based in part on a 2013 study that tied certain characteristics to psychopathy — disinhibition, boldness, and meanness — Murphy set out to demonstrate show how those behaviors correspond to the "big five" traits and to extrapolate patterns of psychopathic behavior.

“Boldness corresponds to low neuroticism and high extraversion, meanness corresponds to low agreeableness, and disinhibition corresponds to low conscientiousness,” Murphy explained in the study. Based on this findings, he was able to translate personality traits into a psychopathy score for each state along with the District of Columbia.

Murphy compared the personality trait estimates to two variables that relate to psychopathy: the homicide rate and the percentage of the state living in an urban area. He noted that "there is a strong correlation between psychopathy and the variable for urban," adding that the District of Columbia is an outlier, at least in part, "due to it being an entirely urban geographic area."

The District of Columbia had by far the highest score (3.48) followed by Connecticut (1.89), California (1.21), New Jersey (1.09), and New York (1.01). Murphy explained that the "presence of psychopaths in District of Columbia is consistent with the conjecture... that psychopaths are likely to be effective in the political sphere."

"Another point of interest is the odd placement of Wyoming (tied for 5th) relative to its geographic neighbors of Montana (43rd), Idaho (24th), Colorado (19th), Utah (22nd), South Dakota (13th), and Nebraska (37th)," he observed, positing that the disparity may be the result of Wyoming having the smallest sample size.

The least psychopathic states, according to the study, are West Virginia, Vermont, Tennessee, North Carolina, and New Mexico.

The study also looked at professions that were the most likely to be inhabited by psychopaths:

  • CEO
  • lawyer
  • media
  • salesperson
  • surgeon
  • journalist
  • police officer
  • clergyperson
  • chef
  • civil servant

The occupations with the fewest psychopaths: care aide, nurse, therapist, craftsperson, beautician/stylist, charity worker, teacher, creative artist, doctor, and accountant.

"Areas of the United States that are measured to be most psychopathic are those in the Northeast and other similarly populated regions," Murphy concludes. "The least psychopathic are predominantly rural areas."

"The District of Columbia is measured to be far more psychopathic than any individual state in the country, a fact that can be readily explained either by its very high population density or by the type of person who may be drawn to a literal seat of power," he said.