Psychotic states of America: Study reveals which states have more psychopaths

Connecticut has more psychopaths than any other state, according to a new study.

The idyllic east coast state is known for its small towns, family-friendly neighborhoods, and Yale University – but research shows it holds another distinction: a higher percentage of people with psychopathic personality traits.

The paper, by Southern Methodist University in Texas, used 2013 data on the ‘big five’ personality traits (neuroticism, agreeableness, extroversion, conscientiousness and openness to experience) in every state of America.

Lead author Ryan Murphy then looked for areas where people were less neurotic, less agreeable, more extroverted, and less conscientious.

Overall, the Northeast has more psychopaths than the rest of the country – with New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maine all in the top 10.

Meanwhile, aside from Wyoming (fourth-most psychopathic) and California (second), the West had the lowest rates.

Psychopaths like Hannibal Lecter are less neurotic, less agreeable, more extroverted, and less conscientious people, according to a forthcoming paper. A social scientists decided to see where those traits were most prominent around the US

The study, which has not yet gone through peer-review, works with two datasets. 

The first is a paper published in 2013 by the University of Texas, Austin, which established the ‘big five’ personality traits. That study conducted surveys across the country to give an overview of the types of personalities in each state.

The second is a forthcoming paper, to be published later this year, which establishes psychopathic personality traits, using the ‘big five’ as reference points.  

Murphy is a research associate in the fields of institutional economics, public policy, and macroeconomics, but when he got wind of the new paper on psychopaths he felt inspired to bridge the two ideas together. 

‘I keep track of a few different academic literatures in social science,’ he told 

‘I spotted the Hyatt et al. (forthcoming) paper last month, and it instantly clicked that I could use that in conjunction with the Rentfrow et al (2013) data to construct a state-level dataset pretty easily. 

‘I did so to satisfy my intellectual curiosity, and continued pursuing it even though it is a bit outside my primary research program.’

The findings are compelling – and a starting point for more research, Murphy said. 

Connecticut came first, followed by California, then New Jersey, then New York and Wyoming in joint fourth place. 

Washington, D.C., was excluded from the general list, but when included it out-runs everywhere else as the most psychopathic place in the country.  

Murphy, while intrigued, says there is some logic that could explain some of the results. 

‘What is driving most of the variation in the data appears to be the urban/rural distinction,’ Murphy said.   

Wyoming threw him though. 

‘Wyoming is the most puzzling data point,’ Murphy said. ‘I speculate in the paper that it might be a fluke because it is built using the smallest sample size of any state in the Rentfrow et al. (2013) data, but I place little confidence in that speculation.’ 

Connecticut, also known as the Land Of Steady Habits and The Provisions State, provides America with more psychopaths than anywhere else in the country

Connecticut, also known as the Land Of Steady Habits and The Provisions State, provides America with more psychopaths than anywhere else in the country

Connecticut may surprise readers, but that result is more clear cut, he says. 

While Connecticut has a ‘quaint’ reputation, its frictions are infamous (the Sandy Hook shooting, and the opioid addiction crisis, to name a couple). 

More importantly, though, it borders with the gloriously unhinged Empire State. 

‘Connecticut’s proximity to New York City and the proportion of people in Connecticut who have some relationship with New York City is probably the cause of it,’ Murphy said.