Psychological profile of male and female animal abusers

Rebecca L. Schwartz, William Fremouw, Allison Schenk, Laurie L. Ragatz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


This study had three purposes: to explore psychological characteristics of animal abusers (criminal thinking styles, empathy, and personality traits), to replicate previously reported results (past illegal actions, bullying behavior), and to examine potential gender differences. The self-reported animal abuser group was 29 college students who reported two or more incidents of animal abuse; controls were 29 college students matched on age and gender. Participants completed self-report measures of criminal thinking, illegal behaviors, bullying, empathy, and the five-factor personality traits. Results indicated animal abusers had more previous criminal behaviors, were more likely to bully, and had the highest scores on the power orientation criminal thinking scale. Abuser by gender interactions were detected; female animal abusers scored significantly higher on several measures of criminal thinking, were found to be more likely to bully, and exhibited lower scores on measures of perspective taking and empathy compared to female controls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)846-861
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2012


  • animal abuse
  • bullying
  • criminal thinking
  • empathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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