Which One Is Worse: Sociopath or Psychopath?

Medically Reviewed on 10/28/2022
Which One Is Worse: Sociopath or Psychopath
Psychopaths are considered more dangerous than sociopaths because they display no remorse for their harmful behavior

Both sociopaths and psychopaths are deemed dangerous because they can often lead normal lives while battling their disorders. However, psychopaths are considered more dangerous than sociopaths because they display no remorse for their harmful behavior.

Psychopaths have a lack of empathy and have an ability to emotionally dissociate from their actions, meaning they are unaffected by the pain they inflict on others. Some traits of psychopaths that make them more of a threat to society than society include:

  • Aggression: Not all individuals who are considered sociopaths or psychopaths are violent. Violence is not an essential element nor is it a requirement for the diagnosis of an antisocial personality disorder; however, it's a common trait. Psychopaths tend to be more physically aggressive than sociopaths and may commit serious punishable crimes. 
  • Impulsiveness: Sociopaths are more impulsive and erratic than psychopaths. They commit crimes in an unplanned manner and disregard the consequences of their actions. Psychopaths, on the other hand, usually plan and have a pattern for committing crimes, thus leading to more perilous situations.

What are the traits of a sociopath?

Researchers believe that sociopathy results from environmental factors, such as being raised in a toxic family with negative influences, leading to childhood physical and emotional abuse trauma

Some of the characteristic traits of a sociopath include:

  • Reckless behavior: Sociopaths in general tend to be more reckless and unpredictable in their behavior than psychopaths. However, they are also prone to difficulties making connections with others, although some sociopaths can form an emotional connection to a group or even a person. Contrary to psychopaths, most sociopaths do not have permanent jobs or typical connections with their families and the outside world.
  • Impulsive and erratic behavior: If a sociopath is involved in criminal conduct and commits crimes, they may do it in an impulsive and unplanned way, with no awareness of the consequences. They can become agitated and easily angered, often leading to violent eruptions. These types of behavior mean that a sociopath is more likely to be caught.

What are the traits of a psychopath?

Studies have suggested that psychopaths may be born with certain traits due to a genetic predisposition. Psychopathy may be linked to differences in the brain's physiological function. Psychopaths have underdeveloped brain components essential for emotional regulation and impulse control.

Some of the characteristic traits of a psychopath include:

  • Inability to form emotional bonds: Psychopaths are generally unable to form true emotional bonds with others. Instead, they create superficial relationships that are designed to manipulate others in a way that most benefits them. People they interact with are considered pawns who can be used to fulfill the psychopath’s goals. Psychopaths do not feel guilty about any of their actions, regardless of how harshly they treat others.
  • Deceptive appearance: Psychopaths are often considered by others to be attractive and trustworthy, and they are able to hold steady jobs. They may even have families and appear to have stable relationships with their partners. Although they may be educated, they may also have learned a lot through their own experience.
  • Planned criminal activities: If a psychopath is involved in criminal activity, it is usually executed in a way that poses minimal risk to them. They carefully plan their criminal activities to ensure that they aren't arrested, and they may have contingency plans for all possible scenarios.


17 Everyday Ways to Ease Depression See Slideshow

What are the signs of antisocial personality disorders?

To identify a person with antisocial personality disorder, under which both sociopathy and psychopathy fall, at least three of the following seven traits must be present over an extended period:

  • No consideration for the law or social norms and the tendency to violate the law
  • Constant lying, deceiving, and manipulating others, making use of fake identities or pseudonyms for personal gain
  • No long-term planning and acting without considering the consequences
  • Aggressive or aggravated behavior that can cause physical or mental injury to others
  • No worry about their own safety or that of other people
  • No follow-through with professional or personal responsibilities
  • Inability to feel guilt, remorse, empathy, or guilt when hurting or abusing other people

Common signs and symptoms of antisocial personality disorder include:

  • Inability to display emotions 
  • Using humor, intelligence, or charisma to manipulate others
  • Feeling a sense of superiority or invincibility
  • Not acknowledging mistakes
  • Inability to maintain amicable friendships and relationships
  • Preferring isolation
  • Intimidating or threatening others
  • Being cold and rude 
  • Trying to control others 
  • Committing crimes and facing legal consequences
  • Threatening to commit suicide 
  • Substance abuse (addicted to drugs, alcohol, or other substances)
  • Hurting or killing animals
Medically Reviewed on 10/28/2022
Image Source: iStock image