Monday, April 11, 2022

We found that only 37% of asexual adults had concordant sexual and romantic orientations and that most asexual adults self-identify as either sex-neutral (41%) or sex-averse (54%)

Concordance Between Romantic Orientations and Sexual Attitudes: Comparing Allosexual and Asexual Adults. Alyssa N. Clark & Corinne Zimmerman. Archives of Sexual Behavior, Apr 5 2022.

Abstract: Sexual and romantic orientations are often considered one and the same, and attitudes about engaging in sexual behavior are assumed to be predominantly positive. The current study explored the concordance between sexual and romantic orientations among allosexual and asexual adults as well as the frequency with which they identify as having a sex-positive, sex-neutral, or sex-averse attitude. As expected, allosexual adults were largely sex-positive (82%) and almost all (89%) had a romantic orientation that matched their sexual orientation. In contrast, we found that only 37% of asexual adults had concordant sexual and romantic orientations and that most asexual adults self-identify as either sex-neutral (41%) or sex-averse (54%). Further, we used a semantic differential task to assess sexual intimacy attitudes and how they varied for adults based on sexual attitude. Asexual adults, regardless of sexual attitude, had less positive attitudes overall than allosexual adults. Interestingly, aromantic asexual adults did not have more negative attitudes about sexual intimacy than romantic asexual participants. Although asexual adults held less positive attitudes about sex than allosexual adults, there was considerable heterogeneity within our asexual sample. The current study provides further insight into the concordance between romantic and sexual orientation, and the associations among sexual and intimacy attitudes for both allosexual and asexual adults. These findings will have implications for future research on how asexual adults navigate romantic relationships.

Time after time: Factors predicting murder series' duration

Time after time: Factors predicting murder series' duration. April Miin Miin Chai et al. Journal of Criminal Justice, Volume 81, July–August 2022, 101915.


Purpose: The duration of time that the serial offender remains free in the community to commit murders may be seen as a direct measure of their longevity; a sign of their success. The aim of this study is to predict the duration of the serial homicide series by examining the factors that contribute to the length of time a serial murderer is able to remain free of police detection.

Methods: Generalized estimating equations with a negative binomial link function were used to examine factors predicting the duration of series in a sample of 1258 serial murder cases.

Results: Results showed that offenders' criminal history, race (i.e., White and Hispanic), and victims of minority backgrounds significantly predicted longer duration in their murder series. A combination of multiple killing methods and atypical methods also predicted longer murder series, while the moving of the victim's body predicted shorter duration in the series.

Conclusions: This study builds upon the serial homicide literature, particularly the duration of the series. Results from this study help inform investigative efforts in serial homicide cases.

Psychopathy and crimes against humanity: A conceptual and empirical examination of human rights violators

Psychopathy and crimes against humanity: A conceptual and empirical examination of human rights violators. Robert D. Hare et al. Journal of Criminal Justice, Volume 81, July–August 2022, 101901.


Purpose: There is a dearth of empirical data on the contributions of personality, psychopathology, and psychopathy to terrorism and its actors. Because of a fortuitous set of circumstances, we had access to a sample of men convicted of crimes against humanity (CAH) committed during the Pinochet regime, each rated by expert clinicians on the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R). We also had PCL-R ratings for samples of general offenders and community participants.

Methods: We determined the psychometric properties of the PCL-R for these samples, performed structural equation modeling (SEM) to investigate the factor structure of the PCL-R, and conducted a latent profile analysis (LPA) of the obtained factors to identify classes or subtypes within the samples.

Results: The PCL-R's psychometric properties and factor structure were in accord with findings from other countries and settings. The PCL-R total scores of the CAH and general offenders were virtually the same but much higher than those of the community sample. However, the CAH group had extraordinarily high scores on the Interpersonal/Affective facets yet relatively low scores on the Lifestyle/Antisocial facets. LPA identified the expected four latent classes, with most CAH men located within the Callous-Conning class.

Conclusions: The results of this study provide unique information about the psychopathic propensities of a sample of state violators of human rights. Their pattern of PCL-R scores was consistent with an extreme disposition for self-serving, callous, and ruthless treatment of others, without guilt or remorse, and in the absence of a prior documented history of severe antisocial behavior.


The relevance of the above outline is that the participants in the current study were members of the DINA, CNI, or related military and police organizations, referred to as the Armed Forces. They operated in an unstable political and socioeconomic environment that fostered and rewarded both the “bright” and “shadow” aspects of leadership (Fisher, Hutchings, & Sarros, 2010). The former includes physical courage, risk-taking, adaptability, self-reliance, and support of subordinates. The latter involves unethical or unlawful behaviors of leaders and followers, influenced or facilitated by being in a dangerous, chaotic, or violent environment. As noted by Fisher et al. (2010, p. S107), “The lack of taboos and prohibitive rules found in war may allow leaders to rationalize behaviors that would be unacceptable in a different context.” Before and during the Pinochet years, the socioeconomic and political conditions provided a fertile environment for ambitious men with bright and shadow leadership qualities who shared the regime's view that communism was a threat to the country. We might argue that such a milieu would be particularly favorable for those most willing and able to exploit the opportunities afforded by “darkness and chaos,” with little concern for the morality of their actions. Babiak and Hare (2019, p. 164) suggested, “[P]sychopaths are emotionally unaffected by the human physical and psychological carnage that accompanies chaotic disasters. They are, by nature, predisposed to take callous but pragmatic advantage of the turmoil and terror experienced by others.” Why, then, is there such a dearth of research on psychopathy and terrorism?

Psychologists and other behavioral scientists face several difficulties in researching terrorism and terrorists. These include definitional issues, the sheer complexity and diversity of terrorist organizations and actors, difficulty in gaining access to the actors, poor research designs, and failure to use validated clinical and forensic measures of personality traits and mental disorders. Victoroff (2005) noted that terrorism research is expensive, potentially dangerous, and may involve ethical concerns from institutional review boards (IRBs). Interestingly, Mills, Massoumi, and Miller (2020) have discussed the ethics of researching terrorism and political violence. Monahan (2015) has outlined the often-insurmountable difficulties he and his colleagues have in gaining Institutional Review Board [IRB] approval and institutional access to groups of known terrorists, particularly for research to identify risk factors for the future commission of terrorist acts.4 Morrison, Silke, and Bont (2021) have proposed a framework for IRBs to evaluate research proposals for terrorism research.

Behavioral scientists may be reluctant to study terrorism because it intrudes into other stakeholders' domains. As put by Horgan (2017, p. 201), “To characterize terrorism as an expression of psychological disturbance is problematic. At the very least, it might appear to belittle the social and political context in which terrorism flourishes while also cloaking the psychological development of the terrorist in unnecessary and misleading ideological baggage.” Behavioral scientists also may find—as did we—that it is daunting to enter fields of inquiry and debate that are vast, heterogeneous, imbued with ideological and political dynamics, and lacking in the fruits of impartial empirical endeavors. Schuurman (2020, p. 1020) described terrorism as “a field of study in which experts mostly talked amongst themselves, endlessly referencing books, articles, and media reports.” Our attempts to review the literature on terrorism—more accurately, the literature—confirmed Schuurman's description and revealed that journal, chapter, and book citation rates generally were surprisingly low for such vital topics.

Unlike most academic studies, which have ready access to student or offender participants, “ terrorists are not likely to cooperate with psychological or psychiatric assessment...authorities may deny access to incarcerated terrorists because of security and secretive concerns. The result is that the data derived from systematic investigations are severely limited” Piccinni et al. (Piccinni, Marazziti, & Veltri, 2017, p. 142). In a review of recent terrorism research, Schuurman (2020) reported that only two of 2552 articles in nine journals devoted to terrorism involved clinical assessments, a situation he considered to be “...particularly problematic [and] urgently in need of a more extensive and robust empirical basis”(p. 1020).” However, according to Lutz (2010, p. 33), “Governments, much to the dismay of academics everywhere, are more interested in practical research (often narrowly defined) and not very interested in the pure research that so many academics are particularly fond of.” Even without the above obstacles, constructive and informative psychopathy research in this field requires willing participants and researchers with the training and experience to conduct reliable and valid clinical/forensic (PCL-R) assessments of the participants, not solely with self-report personality tests or inventories. In our view, self-reports are helpful but not sufficient for the individual assessment of psychopathy.

There is relatively little systematic empirical research on the personality and psychopathology of terrorists, with some notable exceptions discussed below. Well-known truisms about the topic are somewhat discouraging for potential researchers. As stated by Monahan (2012, p. 179), “In no society studied to date have personality traits been found to distinguish those who engage in terrorism from those who refrain from it.” Piccinni et al. (2017) stated, “No evidence exists that terrorist behavior is caused by either prior psychiatric disorders or psychopathy” (p.143). Corner et al. (2021) put it more forcefully, “The search for a single ‘terrorist personality was always overly ambitious, yet at the same time overly simplistic. It was doomed to failure from the start.” It also was naïve, or perhaps merely an early and convenient starting point for understanding the nature of those who engage in terroristic acts. No doubt for these reasons, Ferguson and McAuley (2021, p. 6) stated, “The research on how and why people become involved in violent extremism has moved away from answers based on psychopathology or personality profiles” to the roles of social and collective identity. The authors did not rule out the contribution of personality factors to understanding terrorism. Still, they noted that “community and societal context along with global ideological forces” might have more explanatory value than personality traits, a view consistent with much of the literature on terrorism and violent extremism. However, Merari (2010, p. 253) commented, “By and large, the opinion that terrorists do not have a common psychological profiles rests on the absence of research rather than on direct findings” [our emphasis].

Further, he advocated for the use of standard psychological tests and clinical interviews, as in his studies of suicide bombers. In this sense, the truisms mentioned above are misleading. In any event, behavioral scientists now direct their efforts to the development of theories and research on group and individual differences among terrorists (Corner et al., 2021; Doering et al., 2020; Horgan, 2017; Monahan, 2015), and within various forms of terrorism (Victoroff, 2005).

Some investigators now argue that it is essential to renew efforts to examine the roles of psychology and psychopathology—especially psychopathy—in accounting for the behaviors of terrorists (Gill & Corner, 2017; Horgan, 2017). Zepinic (2018) commented that psychopaths in power are involved in crimes against humanity, use terrorism as a methodology rather than ideology, do not consider themselves criminals, and rarely if ever, are assessed for psychopathy [our emphasis]. Bogerts et al. (2018, p. 131) suggested that a significant proportion of terrorists have a “biological predisposition to violent behavior.” The primary basis for this suggestion is the authors' review of the burgeoning literature on the structural and functional brain anomalies associated with psychopathy, empathy, and aggression and the argument that the violence of both psychopaths and terrorists is planned, instrumental, and remorseless.

Criminology, a discipline traditionally concerned with social, economic, and group factors, now considers personality—more specifically, psychopathy—as an integral part of its accounts of criminality. DeLisi (2009, p. 268, Note 2) commented, “Despite the long clinical history of psychopathy, it was arguably only ‘introduced’ to criminology in 1996 (Hare, 1996).” Fox, Jennings, and Farrington (2015) described how the interpersonal and affective features of psychopathy had provided insights into the ten leading developmental and life-course (DLC) theories in criminology. “It is important to incorporate such personality constructs into key criminological theoretical frameworks” (Fox et al., 2015, p. 275). Correctly measured, psychopathy has much to contribute to the understanding of terrorism and its actors, over and above the contributions of environmental forces (Bogerts et al., 2018; Gill & Corner, 2017).

At one time, there was speculation that the clinical construct of psychopathy could help to explain the dynamics of terrorism. However, the zeitgeist was not receptive to this suggestion. In an informative review and integration, Gill and Corner (2017) described how psychopathy (and more generally, mental disorders) progressed from being early keys to understanding terrorism to be part of more inclusive contextual-social-political-psychological variables. They noted that the empirical research was of poor quality and often confused psychopathy with more general psychopathology. Interestingly, Corner and Gill (2022, p. 392) commented, “Standard clinical procedures require direct access to individuals in clinical settings for prolonged periods. These protocols were not followed in terrorism studies.”

Further, “The lack of valid concepts and objective empirical research, alongside the advancement of psychological research concerning psychopathy, and development of the widely accepted validated measure (PCL-R) aided the gradual demise of the psychopath as-terrorist theory. This permitted other psychological theories to come to the fore.” The PCL-R provided a clinical/empirical measure that made it difficult for commentators to use the term casually and allowed clinicians and researchers to study both groups and the individuals therein. Häkkänen-Nyholm and Nyholm (2012, p. 195) commented, “...even if there are no empirical studies about the subject, a very dangerous situation may occur when you have persons with psychopathic traits in the lead of both the nation's politics and the military. In practice, the military and political leadership may be personified in one person.” Of course, the name that immediately comes to mind is Pinochet. However, we did not assess him and therefore did not comment on his personality traits; many others have done so.

In their review, Corner et al. (2021) identified only two studies that used a validated measure of psychopathy, the short form of the SRP (SRP-SF; Paulhus et al., 2016). Each study conducted an online survey of community participants to examine the association between the SRP-SF and self-reported right-wing authoritarianism (Jones, 2013) or self-sacrifice for a cause (Bélanger, Caouette, Sharvit, & Dugas, 2014). Most of the other reviewed studies had administered self-report inventories of normal-range personality traits—considered by some to be pertinent to psychopathy—to a variety of community and terrorist samples. These studies tell us little about the psychopathy-terrorism link. Investigation of the nexus between psychopathy and terrorism is demanding. It requires access to sizable groups of individuals involved in specified types of terrorist acts. It is essential to consider the milieu in which the acts occurred and to use validated clinical/forensic measures of psychopathy for group and individual analyses.