Psychopathy, and Offending in the Absence of Legal Controls


The article “Who Would ‘Purge’? Low Self-Control, Psychopathy, and Offending in the Absence of Legal Controls,” written by Ryan C. Meldrum, Peter S. Lehmann, and Jamie L. Flexon, investigates the motives for criminal behavior. It aims at examining the assumption that people would willingly commit crimes in the absence of legal restrictions. To test it, the scholars use the film “The Purge” alongside social control and deterrence theories as a basis for further discussion (Meldrum, Lehmann, and Flexon 2021). The selection of the movie for the objectives of the study is conditional upon the fact that interviewees are familiar with it and, therefore, can easily understand the context when reflecting on the topic (Meldrum et al., 2021). Thus, the main idea is to confirm the relation between higher crime rates and the lack of regulations, low self-control, and psychopathy to reveal the patterns of individuals’ conduct under specified circumstances.

Main Points

The publication under consideration revolves around three principal topics underpinning the researchers’ intention to shed light on the described problem. First, they focus on the possibility of greater involvement of citizens in criminal activity when given an opportunity and being confident in the lack of punishment or purging (Meldrum et al., 2021). Second, the authors measure the significance of low self-control for increasing motivation, as this factor seems critical in the decision-making process (Meldrum et al., 2021). Third, psychopathy, as a complement to the above condition is taken into account as another reason for individuals to participate in illegal matters (Meldrum et al., 2021). The combination of these subjects is thoroughly analyzed for making conclusions on the correlation between personal characteristics and the outcomes of one’s actions accompanied by several demographic variables to exclude their influence on the results. The latter included age, sex, race, education level, household income, number of children, relationship status, and region because they tend to affect the motivation of people to commit crimes (Lakshmanasamy 2020). Thus, the initiative was complex and incorporated a variety of patterns of conduct.

Quantitative/Qualitative Methods

In order to examine the research questions, the scholars adopted quantitative methods. They designed a survey based on the factors described above and conducted it online among the members of the Access Your Target Market panel (Meldrum et al., 2021). The received data was presented in the form of statistics reflecting demographics and the responses in the sections, including self-control, psychopathy, and purging (Meldrum et al. 2021). This approach allowed receiving sufficient information for further analysis.

Specific Methods

Alongside the general direction of the authors’ work on the basis of the mentioned quantitative methods, there were specific instruments adopted for the objectives of the study. They were the Brief Self-Control Scale, the Short Dark Triad (SD3) inventory, and a set of questions related to psychopathy developed by the researchers (Meldrum et al., 2021). These tools’ results were consequently processed by using logistic regression models (Meldrum et al., 2021). In this way, the probability of purging linked to other factors was presented in tables for further discussion on the grounds of primary data.

Main Findings/Results

According to the results of the conducted analysis, the examination of the scenario of the film alongside the selected criteria showed a low probability of purging. Further investigation confirmed that formal controls are less significant factors in deterring crime compared to other conditions (Meldrum et al., 2021). The scholars proved that low self-control and psychopathy play an important role in this area, while the latter is more critical in motivating people to commit crimes (Meldrum et al., 2021). These findings correlate with other publications, according to which personal circumstances, such as employment status or education level, are vital for the willingness of individuals to resort to illegal methods of improving their situation (Lakshmanasamy 2020). Thus, the study is beneficial for developing measures for reducing crime rates.

Interesting Information From the Article

The most interesting information from the article is connected to the fact that scenarios of films, such as “The Purge,” do not reflect reality. The motives of people are not limited to the presence or absence of legal restrictions; on the contrary, the emergence of problems in their personal lives is more critical in this respect. This conclusion means that popular sources, such as movies or books, can be misleading in predicting the population’s behavior in response to environmental changes. Hence, the consideration of numerous factors when examining their actions is important for precision.


To summarize, the quantitative study conducted by scholars provides unexpected results in terms of determining the role of legal restrictions in the patterns of criminal behavior. Its analysis with the inclusion of specific conditions, such as low self-control and psychopathy, showed that internal factors have a more significant impact in this area compared to the regulations imposed by the authorities. Questioning the origin of problems of this nature allowed the researchers to confirm the need for further investigating individuals’ lives instead of the environmental conditions. Thus, it can be concluded that this study is extremely beneficial for revealing the actual reasons for certain offenses.


Lakshmanasamy, T. 2020. “Motivation vs. opportunity and crime: An econometric analysis of the effect of unemployment on vehicle theft in India.” Indian Journal of Criminology, 48(1):1-14. Web.

Meldrum, Ryan. C., Lehmann, Peter, S., and Jamie L. Flexon. 2021. “Who would ‘purge’? Low self-control, psychopathy, and offending in the absence of legal controls.” Crime & Delinquency 67(10):1582-1613. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. (2022, October 12). Psychopathy, and Offending in the Absence of Legal Controls. Retrieved from


PsychologyWriting. (2022, October 12). Psychopathy, and Offending in the Absence of Legal Controls.

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"Psychopathy, and Offending in the Absence of Legal Controls." PsychologyWriting, 12 Oct. 2022,


PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'Psychopathy, and Offending in the Absence of Legal Controls'. 12 October.


PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Psychopathy, and Offending in the Absence of Legal Controls." October 12, 2022.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Psychopathy, and Offending in the Absence of Legal Controls." October 12, 2022.


PsychologyWriting. "Psychopathy, and Offending in the Absence of Legal Controls." October 12, 2022.