Can psychopaths be happy

Are Psychopaths Happy?

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Are Psychopaths Happy People? You may think that it is them: after all, psychopaths effectively manipulate people with their superficial charm and pathology lies in order to get what they want. They also lack empathy and calluses others so they don't experience the guilt that would normally reduce their happiness. Therefore, psychopaths can be happy, as you suspect, because they are mostly focused on their own needs and wants.

On the other hand, psychopaths can be unhappy because of the quality of their interpersonal relationships. Romantic relationships and friendships are critical to happiness. In fact, it is difficult to find a happy person who does not have good relationships. Fortunately it is quality, not the amount of relationships that contribute to wellbeing. The interpersonal relationships of psychopaths are usually superficial and superficial. This is not surprising as psychopaths frequently encounter anger, hostility, impulsivity, and poor emotional intelligence.

So are psychopaths happy or unhappy?

To answer this question, Ashley Love and I rated components of well-being (happiness, life satisfaction and positive emotions) and malaise (happiness, life satisfaction and positive emotions, depression and negative emotions) in more than 400 students. We also rated the extent of their psychopathy.

We found that the higher the level of psychopathy reported by the participants, the lower the level of well-being and the higher the level of illness in these students. So we know that psychopaths in general are not happy people.

But we wanted to know how to investigate further: what contributed to the psychopath's misfortune?

In a second study, we measured the quality of the students' romantic relationships. We found that students who were noted to have higher levels of psychopathy tended to report worse romantic relationships. In both men and women, higher levels of psychopathy were associated with lower levels of commitment and trust, and lower overall quality of romantic relationships. Men with high levels of psychopathy also reported lower levels of romance and satisfaction in their romantic relationships.

The results of our studies suggest that people with high levels of psychopathic tendencies are generally unhappy. They show low levels of positive emotions and life satisfaction, and high levels of negative emotions and depression. Furthermore, this misfortune is partly explained by the poor quality of their romantic relationships.


Love, A. B. & Holder, Mark D. (2016). Can romantic relationship quality mediate the relationship between psychopathy and subjective well-being? Journal of Happiness Studies, 17, 2407-2429.

Love, A.B. & Holder, M.D. (2014). Psychopathy and Wellbeing. Personality and individual differences, 66, 112-117.