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In general support of this model, Ellis (1987) performed a meta-analysis which found that both criminality and sociopathy were associated with childhood hyperactivity (in the past), recreational drug use, risk-taking, failure to persist on tasks and a preference for wide-ranging sexual activity – all known indicators of suboptimal arousal.As Eysenck’s Personality Questionnaire is easy to administer, his theory regarding personality and criminal propensity, is easy to test (Hollin, 1992) and many psychologists have done so (Darley et al, 1991; Link & Mealey 1992; Hollin, 1992). Also, in 1987, Arbruthnot, Gordon & Jurkovic determined there was “no evidence of a relationship” between personality inventories and criminality (Goldsmith, Israel & Daly, 20). In 1982, Gray and Cloninger proposed updated versions of the Eysenck model in which the three personality factors are rotated and renamed (Link & Mealey, 1992). Hans Eysenck was a research psychologist and temperament theorist.He used factor analysis techniques to develop theories of temperament – that part of the personality we are born with.All three of these dimensions exhibit substantial inheritability, and since psychoticism is typically much higher in males than females, it is a likely candidate for one of the relevant gender-limited traits which fits Cloninger’s two-threshold risk model explaining the sex difference in expression of sociopathy (Link & Mealey, 1992).To try and explain the connection between temperament, delinquency, sociopathy, and criminal behaviour, Eysenck and colleagues devised the “General Arousal Theory of Criminality” and determined that a person’s behavioural predispositions are based on the inheritance of a nervous system which is insensitive to low levels of stimulation (Hollin, 1992).

Later, when he began to study patients in mental institutions, he added another dimension to his temperament scale; psychoticism (Boeree, 1998; Hollin, 1992).

Eysenck did find that extroverts experience cortical under-arousal, prefer higher levels of stimulation, and are less responsive to punishment – they therefore do not learn behavioural alternatives with the use of disciplinary action (Darley et al, 1991).

Eysenck first postulated then documented that sociopathy in particular was correlated with high scores on all three of the personality dimensions of the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire – extroversion (the opposite of introversion), neuroticism (the opposite of emotional stability), and psychoticism (psychopathy, not psychotic mental illness).

Additional confirmation of the arousal model comes from Zuckerman (1980), who found a similar pattern of behaviour associated with his measure of sensation-seeking.

Zuckerman showed that sensation-seeking as a temperament starts at an early age, shows a high degree of inheritability, decreases with age, and exhibits gender differences – with higher scores more often in males. (1992), The Sociobiology of Sociopathy: An Integrated Evolutionary Model.

Eysenck found that women tend to have higher neuroticism scores than men.


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