Combat sports can be defined as sports that involve the physical domination of opponents in order to win. Previous research on combat sports as they relate to psychopathy and anti-social behavior has produced limited information regarding subtypes of trait psychopathy. While there is evidence suggesting participation in certain combat sports can lead to an increase in anti-social behavior (Endresen & Olweus, 2005), there has never been a direct investigation into primary psychopathy, which has other distinct features such as fearless dominance and lack of remorse. These traits may be useful in the further examination of psychopathologies within a sports context. In the current study, a history of involvement with combat sports is investigated with primary and secondary psychopathy. Empathy, age range(s) of involvement, and perceived level of violence within the sport participated were observed as moderators, as well as a history of watching violent TV shows and playing violent videogames. A sample size of 55 participants was used, with 23 of them having a history of combat sports involvement (56.5% male) and 32 had never participated (34.4% male). Two MANCOVAs were used for both the entire sample and combat sports participants alone. Primary and secondary psychopathy severity were used as dependent variables, with participation and participation by sex interaction as independent, as well as aforementioned moderators as covariates. Results revealed a significant increase in primary psychopathy among males who had participated in a combat sport, and an increase in secondary psychopathy among males as the age of first participation rose. This study provides framework for identifying relationships between combat sports and psychopathy and influencing factors, enabling research on the formation or development of this trait in individuals who have involvement in combat sports, as well as investigating motivating factors for people with varying psychopathy scores to engage in these sports.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Bedwell, Jeffrey


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program

Clinical Psychology



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date