Purpose – Recent research has suggested that a heightened sensitivity to nonverbal cues may give individuals with psychopathic traits an advantage when selecting potential victims. The purpose of this paper is to examine the effect of gender on the association between psychopathy and perceptions of vulnerability to violent victimization. Design/methodology/approach – A sample of 291 undergraduate students viewed a series of eight videos depicting individual female targets walking down a hallway from behind. Participants rated each target's vulnerability to violent victimization and provided a justification for each rating. In addition to these ratings, participants completed the Self-Report Psychopathy Scale. Findings – A series of hierarchical linear regressions revealed gender differences in the association between psychopathy and accuracy. Among male observers, total psychopathy scores, Factor 2 psychopathy scores, and scores on the antisocial behavior facet were positively associated with accuracy in perceiving vulnerability to violent victimization. Conversely, no associations were identified between psychopathy (total, Factors, and facets) and accuracy among female observers. This suggests that the adept ability to accurately perceive nonverbal cues signalling vulnerability is specific to males exhibiting psychopathic traits. Originality/value – The results of the current study highlight the importance of distinguishing male and female psychopathy in research and practice. Moreover, with an understanding of individual differences in the ability to accurately perceive nonverbal cues associated with vulnerability, we may begin to develop intervention strategies aimed at reducing future incidences of victimization.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Gender, Nonverbal cues, Psychopathy, Victim selection, Victimization, Vulnerability
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1108/JCP-06-2017-0029
Journal Journal of Criminal Psychology
Ritchie, M.B. (Mary B.), Blais, J, Forth, A, & Book, A.S. (Angela S.). (2018). Identifying vulnerability to violence: The role of psychopathy and gender. Journal of Criminal Psychology. doi:10.1108/JCP-06-2017-0029