The relationship between psychopathic personality, well-being, and adaptive traits in undergraduates

Guillaume Durand*, Jill Lobbestael

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Although psychopathy is commonly considered exclusively maladaptive, there is growing literature on the benefits and positive outcomes observed in a subset of individuals displaying high levels of psychopathic traits. The aim of the present study was to explore the relationship between adaptive traits known to correlate with the psychopathic personality and psychopathic traits on measures of well-being. Participants were N = 2209 (84 % females) Canadian university students who completed self-report measures of adaptive traits, psychopathic traits, and well-being. A cluster analysis based on adaptive and psychopathic traits resulted in four groups: individuals above-average on both traits (HT), individuals with under-average psychopathic traits and above-average adaptive traits (AP), individuals with above-average psychopathic traits and under-average adaptive traits (NP), and those under-average on both traits (LT). Our findings suggest that individuals with high levels of adaptive traits display higher levels of well-being (i.e., durable happiness, satisfaction with life, and self-esteem). These high levels of well-being were observed in both HT and AP groups, suggesting that individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits may not display lower well-being, so long as they also possess sufficient levels of adaptive traits. Our results are discussed through the different models of successful psychopathy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number112050
Number of pages6
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023


  • Psychopathy
  • Well-being
  • Happiness
  • Students

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