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Genetic and environmental influences on disinhibition, boldness, and meanness as assessed by the triarchic psychopathy measure in 19–20-year-old twins

  • Catherine Tuvblad (a1) (a2), Pan Wang (a3), Christopher J. Patrick (a4), Leslie Berntsen (a1), Adrian Raine (a5) and Laura A. Baker (a1)...



The Triarchic Psychopathy Measure (TriPM) provides Disinhibition, Boldness, and Meanness scales for assessing the three trait domains of the triarchic model. Here we examined the genetic and environmental etiology of these three domains, including evaluation of potential sex differences.


A total of 1016 men and women ages 19–20 years were drawn from the University of Southern California Risk Factors for Antisocial Behavior twin study.


Scores for the three TriPM scales were correlated to differing degrees, with the strongest phenotypic correlation between Disinhibition and Meanness. No sex differences were found in the genetic and environmental influences underlying these three domains, suggesting that the same genes and life experiences contribute to these traits in young men and women. For TriPM Disinhibition and Boldness, genetic factors explained about half or less of the variance, with the rest of the variance being explained by non-shared environmental factors. For TriPM Meanness, on the other hand, genetic, shared environmental, and non-shared environmental factors accounted for the variance. The phenotypic correlation between Disinhibition and Meanness was explained in part by common genes (26%), with the remainder attributable about equally to common shared (39%), and non-shared environmental influences (35%).


These findings contribute to our understanding of psychopathic personality traits by demonstrating the importance of heritable factors for disinhibition and boldness facets of psychopathy, and the importance of shared environmental influences for the meanness facet.


Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Catherine Tuvblad, E-mail: and


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