The Influence of Prenatal Androgen Exposure on Psychopathy



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Prior research has identified significant relationships between prenatal androgen exposure and various behavioral and personality characteristics that maintain a biological component, specifically amongst males. Although evidence suggests prenatal androgens, such as prenatal testosterone, influence behavior and certain personality characteristics, its influence on psychopathy has only recently been investigated. It is suggested that psychopathy may have a biological component that may be influenced by early exposure to testosterone in fetal development, resulting in a sexually dimorphic component. Using data from an undergraduate sample at a southwestern university, the current study examines the relationship between prenatal testosterone measured by the 2D:4D ratio, and a two-factor model of primary and secondary psychopathy between sex in order to identify potential biological vulnerabilities of later adult psychopathy. Findings are consistent with theory and previous literature, where a significant correlation was identified between the 2D:4D ratio and primary psychopathy for the entire sample, and a significant relationship was identified with the 2D:4D ratio and secondary psychopathy for males while controlling for age, race/ethnicity, parental criminality, and child sexual and physical abuse. Results uniquely contribute to the biosocial literature on early prenatal testosterone influence on personality.



Prenatal Androgens, Prenatal Testosterone, 2D4D Ratio, Psychopathy