Mafia and psychopathy

Daniele La Barbera, Vincenzo Caretti, Adriano Schimmenti, Chiara Capri'

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Background In popular culture, Mafia members are often portrayed as ruthless, callous and remorseless, but there is no empirical research on their personality traits.Aims The goal of this research was to examine levels of psychopathic traits among Mafia members who have been convicted of a criminal offence.Methods The Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) rated 30 Italian adult male prisoners who had been convicted for Mafia-related crimes (86% resident in one6-month period) and 39 next adjacent convicted men who were not enrolled in any criminal organisation.Results Mafia members obtained lower PCL-R total scores, interpersonal and affective (PCL-R factor 1) scores and lifestyle scores (factor 2) than the other offenders.Logistic regression analysis showed that lower PCL-R factor 1 scores with higher factor 2 scores in the absence of a history of substance misuse disorder distinguished Mafia fromnon-Mafia offenders. A probability curve confirmed an exponential growth in the probability of classification as a Mafia member in relation to lower PCL-R factor 1 scores.Conclusions Our findings bring new hope for resocialisation of convicted Mafia members, because they showed significant antisocial traits but they maintained acapacity for emotional connection and greater likelihood of engaging with training and resocialisation programmes than other imprisoned offenders in Italy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-331
Number of pages11
JournalCriminal Behaviour and Mental Health
Publication statusPublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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