Hello and welcome back! As promised, today being Monday, I bring you the final answer to who out of these 10 serial killers is considered a psychopath in the eyes of science.
Firstly, let’s remember the contestants!
1. John Wayne Gacy, aka The Killer Clown
2. Jeffrey Dahmer, aka The Milwaukee Cannibal
3. Gary Ridgway, aka The Green River Killer
4. Edmund Kemper, aka The Co-Ed Killer
5. Theodore Bundy, aka Ted Bundy
6. Richard Ramirez, aka The Night Stalker
7. Dennis Rader, aka The BTK Killer
8. Countess Erzebet Bathory, aka The Blood Countess/Countess Dracula
9. Jane Toppan, aka Jolly Jane
10. Aileen Wuornos, aka The Florida Highway Killer
If you didn’t see the post before this one and still want to participate before seeing the answer, go to the article below, where I give a brief introduction of each contestant and leave a comment with your bet!
So, let’s first see what does being a psychopath in the eyes of science mean: For this particular case, we’ll be seeing studies using PCL-R, a scale from Hare (2003). For anyone that doesn’t know, PCL-R is the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised, this is a psychological assessment tool very much used to see the presence of psychopathy in individuals - especially the ones that are jailed, and to differentiate the individual with psychopathy from the one with antisocial personality disorder, since they are very similar illnesses, but not the same.
This checklist has 20 items about personality traits and behaviors, all to be completed based on an interview (semi-structured) and some side information, for example their records. Because of the importance of this test and potential harm it is necessary to be extremely trained to apply it, so you need to be an experienced clinician with a license in order to administer this tool. In psychometric terms, the current version of the checklist has two factors! The first factor (Factor 1) has 2 major facets being “Interpersonal” and “Affective”; the second factor (Factor 2) has the facets “Lifestyle” and “Antisocial”.
However, as you can guess, it’s not possible to interview a lot of these criminals, either because they are incarcerated or dead, so the studies we’ll be seeing use content analysis, which was determined to be the best available technique for this particular research. So the information on this content analysis and other scholar articles were used to get to the PCL-R score for each factor, that was later discussed in order to come up with good results, so all there criminals were considered individually and got assigned a specific score on each item based on the evidence gathered. When the scoring was complete, there was a sum to reach the total of each individual and then researchers proceeded to the comparison of the scores according to gender.
So let’s see what we got!
Starting with the girlies: Countess Elizabeth, Jane and Aileen, we can say that all of them scored lower than the men, especially in Factor 1. What does this mean? It means that male serial killers are more callous, selfish and have less remorse than the women, even though they both are equal in terms of socially deviant lifestyles and being unstable.
The Countess had an almost equal score in Factor 1 and 2, with 8/16 and 9/18 respectively which means this woman was callous, unremorseful, manipulative, and antisocial.
Jane Toppan score 14/16 in Factor 1 traits so like the countess, she was callous and remorseless, using others for her sadistic needs. However, she scored only 3/18 in Factor 2, which tells us that she was not very irresponsible or impulsive and did not lack behavioral control.
The last woman is Aileen Wuornos, that actually placed higher than 2 of the men and above the other women. Aileen’s Factor 1 total was 9 out of 16 and her Factor 2 was 14 out of 18). Aileen was surprisingly very irresponsible and impulsive, having little to no achievable goals.
Let’s now take a look at the male serial killers 1 by 1. Keep in mind that to be labeled psychopathic we need a score of, at least, 30 in this scale.
Starting with Richard Ramirez, he scored slightly higher in Factor 1 characteristics than Factor 2 although both areas were pretty equal, with Factor 1 having 10 out of 16 and Factor 2 with 8 out of 18. It’s pretty impressive that he scored perfectly on the affective and lifestyle facets with 4 out of 4 and 6 out of 6. However, on his interpersonal and antisocial facets he scored a lot lower, with only 1 out of 6 and 0 out of 6, respectively. This means that his lack of empathy, sense of responsibility and impulsive nature outweigh the superficial, grandiose and antisocial characteristics by a lot.
Dennis Rader scored higher than Ramirez, with a perfect score on Factor 1 (16/16), but only 6/18 in Factor 2, which means he was deceitful, grandiose and remorseless but had poor behavior control, although not being impulsive or irresponsible at all.
John Gacy got a total on Factor 1 of 16/16, so another perfect score like Rader, and 6/18 in Factor 2. Gacy was lacking more in the impulsiveness and the behavioral control.
Jeffreey Dahmer only scored 9 out of 16 in Factor 1 which means he isn’t as cold and callous as the previous, although he got 12/18 in Factor 2, scoring almost the max in impulsiveness.
Gary Ridgway scores 11/16 in Factor 1 and only 4/18 in Factor 2, bringing us the lack of impulsiveness and irresponsibility we were looking for.
Being almost over, we got Edmund Kemper, with a Factor 1 score of 13 out of 16 and a score of 11 out of 18 in Factor 2.
Lastly, we have Ted Bundy. He scored 16 out of 16 in Factor 1, so a perfect score like Gacy and Rader and a score of 16 out of 18 in Factor 2. This tells us Bundy was cold, calculated and an unremorseful predator.
So, keeping in mind that we consider scientifically psychopathic individuals that score higher than 30, here’s the final results:
1. John Wayne Gacy, aka The Killer Clown 27/40
2. Jeffrey Dahmer, aka The Milwaukee Cannibal 23/40
3. Gary Ridgway, aka The Green River Killer 19/40
4. Edmund Kemper, aka The Co-Ed Killer 26/40
5. Theodore Bundy, aka Ted Bundy 34/40
6. Richard Ramirez, aka The Night Stalker 18/40
7. Dennis Rader, aka The BTK Killer 22/40
8. Countess Erzebet Bathory, aka The Blood Countess/Countess Dracula 17/40
9. Jane Toppan, aka Jolly Jane 17/40
10. Aileen Wuornos, aka The Florida Highway Killer 23/40
And the winner is……………….
Charming, eloquent, intelligent and easy to talk to, he had a very antisocial lifestyle, also being quite a parasite. He was pretentious, arrogant, manipulative and had no long term goals, making him like the mind games with police a lot. Feeling grandiose and with huge levels of self-esteem, would constantly change between truth and lies, rarely taking accountability for his actions and never showing any concern or remorse for what he did and his victims. And he was the type of people that would have never stopped his killings if he hadn’t been caught and executed.
However, Aileen was considered the quintessential “secondary” psychopath since she was dominated by her antisocial tendencies and had extremely poor behavioral control and was both very impulsive and irresponsible, also with no achievable goals, just like Bundy.
But only Bundy scored high enough to be considered a psychopath so… Congratulations @CryptoMax , you got it right!! Thank you to everyone that participated and read my article! Leave in the comments below what you thought of this game, if you want more games like this one and what you would like to see next in our True Crime Series!
Hope all of you have a great day!!! <3
Sources: Norris, Chasity Shalon, "Psychopathy and Gender of Serial Killers: A Comparison Using the PCL-R." (2011). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Paper 1340. https://dc.etsu.edu/etd/1340
Hickey, E. W., Walters, B. K., Drislane, L. E., Palumbo, I. M., & Patrick, C. J. (2018). Deviance at its darkest: Serial murder and psychopathy. In C. J. Patrick (Ed.), Handbook of psychopathy (p. 570–584). The Guilford Press.