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Here's Where the Most Psychopaths Live in the U.S.

Men's Health logo Men's Health 6/26/2018 Melissa Matthews

Washington, D.C. has the most psychopaths in the United States, according to study.: Here's Where the Most Psychopaths Live in the U.S. © Strong Heart/Demme Production Here's Where the Most Psychopaths Live in the U.S. The answer may or may not surprise you.

  • A new study aimed to determine which state had the most psychopaths.
  • Out of the 48 continental states and Washington, D.C., our nation's capital ranked number one on the list.
  • The state with the fewest psychopaths is West Virginia.

Washington, D.C., may be known for its countless politicians, but a new study says our nation's capital also houses the most psychopaths in the United States.

Published in theSocial Science Research Network, a new paper ranked the 48 continental states and District of Columbia by the degree of psychopathic personality traits found in the residents of each state. Using data from personality surveys conducted nationally in 2013, researchers determined that Washington, D.C., has the most psychopaths, while West Virginia has the fewest.

According to the study author, this isn't entirely surprising, given that people with psychopathic personalities tend to enjoy politics, Newsweek reported.

a flock of seagulls are standing in the snow: United States Psychopaths Ranking © Getty Images United States Psychopaths Ranking

Here's the full list, ranked from most to least psychopathic states:

1. District of Columbia

2. Connecticut

3. California

4. New Jersey

5. New York and Wyoming (tie)

7. Maine

8. Wisconsin

9. Nevada

10. Illinois

11. Virginia

12. Maryland

13. South Dakota

14. Delaware

15. Massachusetts

16. Arizona

17. Florida

18. Iowa

19. Colorado

20. Texas

21. Ohio

22. Utah

23. Arkansas

24. Idaho

25. North Dakota

26. Michigan

27. Alabama

28. Pennsylvania

29. Rhode Island

30. Louisiana

31. Kansas

32. Georgia

33. Minnesota

34. Missouri

35. Washington

36. Kentucky

37. Nebraska

38. South Carolina

39. New Hampshire

40. Oregon

41. Indiana

42. Mississippi

43. Montana

44. Oklahoma

45. New Mexico

46. North Carolina

47. Tennessee

48. Vermont

49. West Virginia

How was the study conducted?

Ryan Murphy, professor at Southern Methodist University and study author, first looked at surveys conducted in 2013 that determined the levels of agreeableness, extraversion, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism exhibited by residents in each state. Collectively, these attributes are known as the "Big Five" traits that make up our personalities.

Scientists already know that psychopathy is linked to disinhibition, boldness, and meanness, but an unreleased study says these characteristics can be translated into the big five traits, Quartz reported.

"Boldness corresponds to low neuroticism and high extraversion, meanness corresponds to low agreeableness, and disinhibition corresponds to low conscientiousness," Murphy explained to Quartz.

Taking this research into consideration, Murphy ranked each state for psychopathy.

It's important to note that this study has not been fully peer reviewed, meaning outside researchers haven't weighed in on whether the science behind Murphy's findings are legitimate. 

What is a psychopath, anyway?

There is no precise definition on psychopathy. As Business Insider reported, psychopathy is not listed as a personality disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a guide used by medical professionals to diagnose mental health conditions. However, psychopaths are lumped under antisocial personality disorder, which is exhibited by a lack of remorse or empathy for others.

Studies have shown that psychopaths have a different brain composition compared to others, according to Scientific American. Notably, the area regulating behavior and impulse control - known as the prefrontal cortex - is smaller, and the amygdala, which manages emotions like guilt and sadness, is deformed.

Although psychopaths are often depicted as cold, heartless murderers in TV shows and movies, research has shown that not all psychopaths are criminals. However, psychopaths with a violent past are four times more likely to act violently in the future.

Thankfully you don't have to worry too much about living next door to a psychopath. Estimates show they only make up about 0.6% to 4% of the population, reported Scientific American.

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