Psychopath vs Sociopath: 16 Key Differences By Tarra Bates-Duford, Ph.D., MFT ~ 1 min read


Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a long-term pattern of disregard for, or violation of, the rights of others. Persons with a personality disorder have a low moral compass or conscience, as well as a history that is more likely to include maladaptive behaviors such as crime, legal problems, or impulsive and aggressive behavior. Not surprisingly, antisocial personality disorder is included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. 5th edition.

Antisocial personality disorders can consist of several variations; however, the most prominent delineations are sociopaths and psychopaths.

Unfortunately, may people use the terms psychopath and sociopath interchangeably, almost synonymously. The primary reason the terms are often used interchangeably involves the limited differences that distinguishes the terms.

Notably, there are many similarities between the two disorders, such as, disregard for the law, have no regard for the needs or the feelings of others, lack empathy, they both often blame others and have excuses for their behavior, lack emotional attachment, engages in deceptive behavior, lack feelings of remorse or guilt, and more likely than individuals without the disorders to engage in illegal activities. Although, mental health professionals often group sociopaths and psychopaths together, criminologists differentiate between them based on their outward behavior.

Differences between Sociopaths and Psychopaths Include:


• Psychopaths do not have a conscience

• Sociopaths have a weak conscience

• Psychopaths are more manipulative and calculating than sociopaths

• Sociopaths are much more likely to blend in with society than psychopaths

• Psychopaths are typically wiling to pretend they care about or are interested in the feelings of others

• Sociopaths are less able to play along. They make it plain that they’re not interested in anyone but themselves

• Psychopaths are often very intelligent, charming, and good at mimicking emotions

• Sociopaths are typically impulsive, they act without thinking about the consequences of their actions

• Psychopaths are usually callous, yet charming

• Sociopaths often display irritability

• Psychopaths can be almost obsessively organized

• Sociopaths are usually less organized in his or her demeanor; he or she might be nervous, easily agitated, and quick to display anger

• Psychopaths can typically maintain normal social relationships

• Sociopaths have a difficult time establishing and maintaining relationships

• Psychopaths will often be very successful in their careers

• Sociopaths have a difficult time achieving career goals and maintaining employment


Additionally, it appears that some of the antisocial behaviors in sociopaths can lessen over time while the same cannot be said of psychopaths. According to the DSM-5, the symptoms of antisocial personality tend to remit over the course of life, especially during and beyond the fourth decade of life. However, the DSM-5 notes this remission typically only involves a decrease in antisocial behaviors, not a full reduction of all symptoms.

Despite the similarities in the characteristics of psychopathy and sociopathy, it is highly unlikely that a single person could possess the attributes of both disorders. However, it is possible that a person’s attributes might be borderline between a psychopath and a sociopath making it difficult to make a distinction between the disorders.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by caroeardley on September 20, 2018 at 9:30 am

    it’s good to remember that people don’t usually fit neatly into one category or another…and, after having spent a lot of time researching these labels, I can’t say it did me one bit of good to ‘know’ what label to stick on my ‘problem’…I did learn a lot along the way about the consequences – for me – of living with a psycho/sociopath…but in the end you need to stop thinking about them and focus on you!…my 2 cents worth

  2. Nice response

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: