Psychopath vs Sociopath: What’s The Difference?


While working in the office, chilling at the cafe or attending any family function, I have observed different traits of people. Like, have you ever watched the movie “Joker”, mentally troubled comedian Arthur Fleck is mistreated and disregarded by society. He then embarks on a downward spiral of bloody crime and revolution. While discussing the character, author, comic fans, critic and the public often referred to him as a Psychopath.

Additionally, in The Dark Knight, he is a loner, unemotional, glib, and violent. These behavioral traits are aligned with the term “Psychopath”.

For understanding the term “Sociopath”, let’s take the example of Sherlock Holmes, he is idealized for romanticizing the idea of sociopaths, but in reality, they are not lovable! The primary behavioral fact of a sociopath is that they do not have any regard for feelings or others. They are kind of manipulative, charming, and know exactly what to speak. But still, they do not have any conscience for people!

Difference Between a Psychopath and Sociopath

Sometimes, people get confused with these two terms (Psychopath and Sociopath) and use them interchangeably. However, they do not mean the same. Fact is Psychopath and Sociopath traits might look similar, but psychopaths are a more severe type of sociopaths.

To understand the difference between a Psychopath and sociopath, refer to the below mentioned key points.

What is a Psychopath?

Psychologists believe that psychopaths have this trait in genes like a genetic predisposition. Psychopathy is related to psychological brain differences. Psychopaths tend to have underdeveloped components of the brain which regulate impulse and emotional regulation. Psychopaths have shallow or artificial relationships that are manipulative in nature. Psychopaths never feel guilty while hurting their loved ones.

Psychopaths seem to be trustworthy and charming, holding steady with normal jobs. Some even have loving relationships, they are well-educated as well. Some famous Psychopaths are Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, and Fidel Castro.

The Common Traits of a Psychopath Are:

  • Selfishness
  • Aggression
  • Psychopathy
  • Narcissism
  • Lack of guilt, conscience, empathy or remorse
  • Impulsive
  • Shallow emotions
  • Grandiose sense of worth
  • Irresponsible
  • Superficial glibness and charms

What is a Psychopath

What is a Sociopath?

Sociopaths are the result of environmental factors, like upbringing in a negative household such as physical and emotional abuse or childhood trauma. They are more erratic and impulsive in behavior. Some sociopaths face difficulties in forming an attachment with others meanwhile, some have attachments like a minded person.

Sociopaths do not have long-term jobs and do not present themselves as a familiar people.

The Common Traits of Sociopaths Are:

  • Shallow emotions
  • Pathological lying
  • Incapacity for love
  • Impulsive nature
  • Unreliability
  • Parasitic lifestyle
  • Need for stimulation
  • Criminal versatility

What is a Sociopath

Difference between Psychopath and Sociopath:

The most important difference between Psychopath and Sociopath personality depends on the “conscience” level. Drawn from the lines that sociopaths have a little resemblance of conscience, meanwhile, psychopaths do not have any.

Another difference is that psychopaths are good at mimicking the emotions of people they know. It seems that psychopaths are deeply interested in you, but you’ll never know that they do not actually care about you.

Psychopaths learn to pretend upset or angry when something goes wrong as they believe that this will be the appropriate reaction. Psychopaths generally do not feel anything at all but learn to mimic emotions.

Meanwhile, sociopaths feel little guilt or remorse, but they still do such activities. Additionally, sociopaths and psychopaths lack empathy.

Psychopath-vs-Sociopath Chart
Psychopath vs Sociopath Chart

How is a Male Psychopath Different from a Female Psychopath?

Did you know that nearly 1% of the total human population have psychopathic tendencies? Interestingly, men tend to have more attributes of a psychopath than women. However, there is no extensive research on the differences in how a male psychopath differs than a female psychopath.

Additionally, about 93% of the prison population is male which shows that the male population is into crime. But, still, with the given numbers, we cannot exactly say that male psychopaths act more violently.

On the other hand, female psychopaths are really good at flirting and they know how to use their sexuality to manipulate other people. Female psychopaths have less probability of violent attacks meanwhile, they are verbally aggressive. However, male psychopaths are physically aggressive. Maybe, this is the reason for the high number of males in prisons.

Additionally, female psychopaths have anxiety and emotional issues and they are more likely to be promiscuous. But almost all traits of male psychopaths and female psychopaths are similar.

Who is More Dangerous Between Sociopaths and Psychopaths?

Both sociopaths and psychopaths present risks to society,  as they try to live a normal life and copes with their disorder. However, psychopaths are more dangerous as they experience a lot of guilt which are connected with their actions.

Many famous serial killers are psychopaths as they have the ability to dissociate from their actions. Furthermore, violence is not an important ingredient, but it is often present in both sociopaths and psychopaths.

sociopath versus psychopath

How to find a Psychopath or Sociopath in Childhood?

Do you know out of 100 children 1 child shows the traits of psychopath or sociopath? Now, the question arrives on how to find a psychopath or sociopath in childhood. Experts from reputed universities have stated that the condition is still largely unrecognized for most of the people.

But still, from these below-mentioned points you can find a psychopath or a sociopath in childhood:

1. Seemingly charming personality

Such children actually do not care if someone is in stress.

2. No remorse No guilt

They are very keen on their needs and kind of considered as selfish.

3. The fascination for certain stuff

They have a fascinating personality for their own personal stuff. Like, they do not want anyone to touch their stuff.

4. Insensitive towards punishment

They are actually insensitive towards punishment. Punishments do not matter to them. Even if parents reward them after this, they still behave in an insensitive manner.

5. Lack of Empathy

The empathy personality is completely flat and quiet in their brains. They understand but they do not care.

6. Short temper

Sometimes, these kids will love you but the time when you will go against them, they can turn to evil in a short moment.

List of Treatment for psychopath Child
Image Source:

How to Deal With a Psychopath or Sociopath?

When you have finally spotted a psychopath or a sociopath, there is a chance that you might make them sad unintentionally. Therefore, in this section, I have provided some best ways to deal with a psychopath or a sociopath.

1. No matter how upset or frustrated you are, do not show your emotions to psychopaths or sociopaths. They can easily manipulate your emotions.

2. Take your stand in an assertive manner and do not take their bullying to you. Never show them that you are intimidated by their acts.

3. Never buy their stories. They actually blame people to get into your shoes. They do not show sympathy and keep your discussions general with them.

4. Try to keep the conversation in a generalized manner; do not dig into deep or past. Just try to turn the conversation or discussion back on them.

5. If you think your loved one or closed ones are in trouble with the signs of these traits, check out for online communication therapies. Because psychopaths and sociopaths are bad at communicating their problems one on one.

The BIG Take Away

Maybe there is someone who shows traits of psychopath or sociopath. Please try to understand that when dealing with psychopaths or sociopaths, punishments never work. Trying to introduce consequences, shame or punishment for their bad behavior will only make them feel worse. Their brain does not respond to punishment.

But, positive reinforcement is the most effective and kindest thing which you can do. Try to interact with them. Try to reward the good, and you will receive more of it.

For more such informational and motivational content, follow Calm Sage.

Thanks for reading!

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  1. Amara Smith

    Psychology researchers generally believe that psychopaths tends to be born — it’s likely agenetic predisposition — while sociopaths tend to be made by their environment. Nice Content.

  2. Swati gupta

    I think you should add how to identify a sociopath or phychopathe in childhood. This will help parents. Nice content covered. Surely share with my colleagues.

  3. Rashmi Kandhil

    Amazing content. I think the basic difference is that psychopaths tend to be more manipulative on the other hand sociopaths tend to be more erratic.

  4. Janny Thomas

    That's really a helpful content. Does it mean that Psychopath's are emotionless?

  5. Richa singh

    I want to know do phychopath or sociopath afraid of anything? How should I react when dealing with the.

  6. ปั๊มไลค์

    Like!! Great article post.Really thank you! Really Cool.

    1. Aayushi Kapoor

      Thank you! Keep reading. :)

  7. Boris Stary

    I agree with you

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