Psychopathy and sadism are related, but distinct constructs.
This meta-analysis examined the association between psychopathic personality traits as assessed by the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R; Hare, 1991), and sadism. The PCL-R yields a total score as well as two factor scores. Factor 1encompasses the interpersonal/affective components of psychopathy such as glibness, and callousness. Factor 2 captures the antisocial behavior aspects of psychopathy including impulsivity, and poor planning abilities. The meta-analysis included 19 independent adult, male forensic samples from 16 articles that included a total of 5161 participants. The average r across all studies for PCL-R total score and sadism was 0.24 (p < .001). Both PCL-R Factor 1 (r = 0.25, p < .01) and PCL-R Factor 2 (r = 0.26, p < .01), yielded similar correlations with sadism. Sadism measurement method and type of sadism assessed did not significantly moderate the association between psychopathy and sadism. However, there was low power in the moderator analyses. These results support previous research that found both the interpersonal/affective component of psychopathy and the antisocial behavior component of psychopathy are associated with sadism.