7 Major Differences Between A Psychopath And A Sociopath You Need To Know

Know the critical differences.

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Psychopaths vs sociopaths: the words are tossed around with the frequency of Parmesan and Romano cheese at an Italian restaurant.

But like two kinds of cheese, does anyone really know the differences between a psychopath and a sociopath?

They may seem similar, but they aren't. There are certain things they have in common. For example, a total disregard for socially acceptable behavior, the law, other people's feelings, a lack of guilt, and (sometimes) violent tendencies. Sounds like a real peach of a person.


RELATED: If He Has These 7 Traits, Chances Are He's A Sociopath

In case you're married (or dating) someone you may think is one of the above, here's a handy list to help you clarify. (Also, you may want to bail on this relationship. Just saying.)

7 Major Differences Between A Psychopath And A Sociopath You Need To Know

1. Nature versus nurture

The main difference between the two monsters is how they were created.

Sociopaths: the result of nurture. An abusive upbringing or other such childhood trauma can lead to someone becoming a sociopath, like The Joker in Batman.

Psychopaths: born with faulty wiring. The part of the brain in charge of impulse control and emotions is underdeveloped, leading them to be born psychos.


2. Emotional stability

Sociopaths: explosive and anxious. They get angry at the drop of a hat. They aren't so great at hiding their emotions, instead openly blame other people for their problems. Kinda like, "It's your fault I stubbed my toe!" Sociopaths are highly impulsive and lack patience.

Psychopaths: cool, calm, and collected. They're so chill, you'll think they're on permanent Xanax. 

3. Ability to connect with humans

Sociopaths: are overall crappy people... but they can at least somewhat understand human emotions.


Psychopaths: are completely unable to feel remorse or guilt. In fact, research has shown that when shown violent movies, psychopaths actually feel calmer, as opposed to normal people who feel more agitated when thinking about violence. Think Ted Bundy. 

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4. Career choices

Sociopaths: have a hard time maintaining a job, which all comes back to how they were raised.

Psychopaths: tend to be highly intelligent and manage successful careers. They're master manipulators and can come across as very likable. Psychopaths are able to mimic human emotions, even if they can't personally experience them.


5. Criminal tendencies

Sociopaths: tend to be highly unpredictable and impulsive. While violence is rare, it does happen.

Psychopaths: meticulous in their planning, making sure it's very difficult to get caught. Even if they're not violent, psychopaths often commit white-collar crimes like fraud or money laundering.

6. Relationships

Sociopaths: can have relationships, as terrible as they may be. Since their behavior is learned and not innate, they can still feel just enough to empathize and understand people.

Psychopaths: form relationships based on what they can get out of them. If you find that your psychopath husband's friends are only useful to him to further his own needs, well... that's a red flag.


7. Outward appearances

Sociopaths: likely to have kinks in their appearance. They might have uncontrollable tempers, and be easily irritated or very disorganized. 

Psychopaths: smooth like butter. Remember Christian Bale in the movie American Psycho? It's just like that. They're charming, flattering, and well-spoken.

RELATED: If He Has These 9 Traits, Tread Lightly — He Might Be A Psychopath

Rachel Khona has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Playboy, Penthouse, Maxim, and Cosmopolitan among others.