Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

William Buhrow, PsyD

Second Advisor

Mark McMinn, PhD

Third Advisor

Rodger Bufford, PhD


Psychopathy is often misrepresented as a sign of criminality and deviance. However, current literature suggests that psychopaths make up approximately one-fifth of the general population. Some people use these characterological traits to their benefit in positions of leadership. In this study, students from a Christian university in the Pacific Northwest were selected to participate in a survey, based upon their chosen major (Business, Psychology, and Religion). It was hypothesized that Business students would have the highest total levels of psychopathy and religion majors would show the lowest levels of psychopathy. Since religion often serves as a protective factor, it is further predicted that religion will mitigate the effects of psychopathy, and will be negatively correlated with psychopathic traits. Multiple one-way ANOVAs and Tukey post hoc tests were used to determine which degrees had statistically significant differences, and a correlational study examined the possibility of religion as a mitigating factor. Results indicated that Religion students had the highest levels of primary psychopathy as well as overall psychopathy levels, whereas Business students had the highest levels of secondary psychopathy. It was also determined that primary and secondary psychopathy had no significant relationship to one another, and that total psychopathy levels had no significant differences between age and gender. The implications of this study show the potential for individuals with more psychopathic personality traits to enter prosocial leadership roles, such as clergy, and the benefit of pre-employment personality screening.