The construct of psychopathy has long been controversial, owing to a host of unanswered questions regarding its boundaries, assessment, and etiology . One key unresolved issue concerns potential cross-cultural differences in the phenotypic manifestations and external correlates of psychopathy. This question bears important implications for understanding the extent to which the psychopathy construct can be generalized to other cultures, including non-Western cultures. As a number of scholars [41, 45] have observed, investigations of differences in psychopathy are limited largely to comparisons of (a) Whites versus African-Americans and (b) American, European, and Australian samples. Moreover, the findings from such studies are mixed. Some investigators have reported somewhat lower validity for psychopathy dimensions (especially those tied to impulsive and antisocial traits) in predicting laboratory performance and aggression among African-Americans than Whites [4, 11, 16, 42], whereas others have reported few or no differences [17, 44]. Cross-national investigations of psychopathy are even more sparse and difficult to interpret .
The goal of the current study was to examine the construct validity of a self-reported psychopathy measure among undergraduate students in three nations, one Western (i.e., U.S.) and two Middle Eastern (i.e., Saudi Arabia, Egypt), by testing the inter-correlations among the Psychopathic Personality Inventory-Revised (PPI-R)  subscales and factors as well as their associations with Five Factor Model (FFM) personality traits. Such work is important for ascertaining the extent to which the psychopathy construct is meaningful in cultures that are markedly different from those in North America and Europe, where the vast majority of psychopathy research has been conducted.
Psychopathy in the Middle East
The generalizability of psychopathy across cultures is of interest for research and clinical purposes, as researchers have questioned the extent to which personality pathology is culture-bound [8, 28, 41]. Nevertheless, although a few researchers have examined scores on the MMPI or MMPI-2 in Arabic-speaking non-Western samples , this research has not focused on psychopathic or antisocial traits per se. Additionally, published studies that have examined measures of psychopathy-related traits, such as the MMPI or MMPI-2 Psychopathic deviate scale, have largely described approaches to translation and item-discrimination characteristics rather than external correlates . More broadly, only a handful of studies has examined psychopathy in non-Western cultures. Most of these investigations have used the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R; ) or its various iterations. For example, utilizing a short version of the PCL-R among Iranian prisoners, Shariat et al.  found a similar factor structure to the original PCL-R standardization sample, although some culture-specific findings emerged. Specifically, items loaded differently on higher-order factors in each sample. Although no consistent pattern of higher or lower loading items emerged across samples, most of the significant differences were related to content associated with an arrogant and deceitful interpersonal style and deficient emotional experience (i.e., PCL-R Factor 1). Recent studies have also examined the correlates of psychopathy using self-report measures of personality, although most of these investigations have focused on Western samples .
We located only one published study examining psychopathy and personality in a non-Western sample. Using a self-report version of the PCL-R, Ghaderi et al.  examined associations between psychopathy and FFM personality among incarcerated Iranian prisoners. When PCL-R subdimensions were examined, both factors were strongly negatively associated with Agreeableness and moderately negatively associated with Conscientiousness and Openness. Corroborating findings in Western cultures [10, 22], results from multivariate analyses statistically predicting a global psychopathy score revealed significant main effects for low Agreeableness, most strongly, and low Conscientiousness . In a broader investigation, Neumann and colleagues  reported on psychopathic traits assessed using the Self-Report Psychopathy (SRP)  scale, a questionnaire designed to be consistent with a PCL-R conceptualization of psychopathy, within a large world-wide sample. Respondents from the Middle East reported higher scores on the interpersonal facet, with more moderate scores across the other three facets, which assess affective, lifestyle, and antisocial aspects of psychopathy. Although Neumann et al.  included a Middle East region in their analyses, questionnaires were not administered in Arabic in any of the countries included in this region (i.e., Israel, Lebanon, Turkey), nor were Egypt and Saudi Arabia surveyed (sample information detailed in .
Taken together, this small literature suggests the emergence of a similar, although perhaps not identical, psychopathy construct in Middle Eastern samples. Nonetheless, the extent to which the core features of psychopathy are generalizable to cultures whose enculturation and socialization differ from those of Western culture remains unclear.
Underscoring the need for cross-cultural examinations of psychopathy is the recently published Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5; . Similar to previous editions, DSM-5 notes that signs and symptoms must “deviate markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture” (, p. 645) to be regarded as pathological, highlighting the need for cultural sensitivity and awareness in the cross-cultural assessment and diagnosis of mental disorders. Personality disorders such as psychopathy are commonly believed to be among the most culturally-dependent diagnoses , rendering the need for cross-cultural/national investigations of conditions such as psychopathy even more vital .
Self-Reported Psychopathy and FFM Personality
Psychopathy has repeatedly been found to be a multidimensional construct , and a number of measures have been developed for assessing its sub-dimensions. Although questionnaire indices of psychopathy have often been viewed with skepticism , growing evidence attests to their validity in non-incarcerated populations. Specifically, self-report psychopathy scores demonstrate substantial convergence with informant reports  and there is little evidence to suggest that psychopathic individuals in non-forensic settings are especially prone to positive impression management, at least in non-incentivized research contexts . One of the most widely-used, well-validated self-report measures of psychopathy designed to detect the personality features of the condition is the PPI-R, which consists of eight content scales that often load onto two factors, Fearless Dominance (FD) and Self Centered Impulsivity (SCI), with the exception of Coldheartedness, which does not load highly on either factor  (c.f. ) for an alternative factor structure). FD is associated with many of the core affective and interpersonal features of psychopathy, including social and physical boldness, charm, glibness, and relative immunity to anxiety, and is tied to the largely socially adaptive features of psychopathy  (c.f. ), for criticisms of the FD construct). In contrast to FD, SCI is associated with most of the behavioral features of psychopathy, including manipulativeness, egocentricity, aggressiveness, impulsivity, and antisociality [5, 6]. Coldheartedness reflects a separate subgroup of traits, potentially tied to other affective features of psychopathy, such as lack of guilt and remorse, callousness, and absence of social emotions.
The PPI-R lends itself well to cross-cultural studies of psychopathy given that as it was designed to (a) minimize the use of culture-specific idioms and (b) present items at a relatively low reading level that are applicable to a broad range of samples. In addition, in contrast to other questionnaire measures of psychopathy, the PPI-R has been officially translated and back-translated into Arabic (PAR, http://www4.parinc.com/Products/PermsLicensing.aspx?id=23). In these respects, it may be well suited to cross-cultural studies, including those in the Middle East.
Several investigators have examined associations between PPI-R higher-order factors and FFM personality traits. Summarizing these findings, recent meta-analytic results reported that FD was related to Neuroticism (r = −.50) and Extraversion (r = .50), with a smaller contribution from Openness (r = .25); the associations with Agreeableness and Conscientiousness were negligible. In contrast, SCI reflected contributions from Agreeableness (r = −.49) and Conscientiousness (r = −.51), with a lesser contribution from Neuroticism (r = .30); the associations with Extraversion and Openness were negligible . Coldheartedness, however, appears to be somewhat more difficult to capture with FFM domains , although a combination of low Agreeableness and low Conscientiousness explained the most variance in this dimension. Taken together, the PPI factors evidence differential associations with FFM traits.
With some exceptions, the FFM appears to be reasonably robust across cultures [23, 24]. Nevertheless, the FFM trait of Openness has been less consistent in its manifestation, in some cases not emerging clearly in certain cultures (e.g., ). The reason for these findings are unclear, although the Openness trait may be less relevant in more traditional cultures in which behavioral options, such as the ability to pursue one’s artistic, musical, or intellectual interests, are constrained . Interestingly, in the original factor analyses identifying the FFM, Tupes and Christal ) dubbed this dimension “Culture,” underscoring the extent to which it assessed cultural interests. These interests, and the extent to which people are able to actualize them, may in turn differ across cultures.
We aimed to examine the cross-cultural/national comparability of psychopathy in a cultural group that has received no known systematic investigation in this regard, namely, individuals in Middle Eastern countries. Specifically, we examined the psychometric properties of self-reported psychopathy scores among undergraduate students in two large Arabic-speaking countries - Egypt and Saudi Arabia - and compared them with scores derived from a large undergraduate American sample. We also examined FFM personality correlates of psychopathy in the American and Egyptian samples.
Although this is the first study of these questions in Middle Eastern Arabic-speaking samples, we advanced a number of provisional a priori hypotheses deduced from the broader cross-cultural literature. First, with regard to associations with FFM personality domains, consistent with the extant literature on Western samples, we expected SCI (and its component traits) and Coldheartedness to be most strongly negatively associated with Agreeableness and Conscientiousness. In contrast, we expected FD (and its component traits) to be most strongly positively associated with Extraversion and negatively correlated with Neuroticism.
Finally, although broadly comparable correlates of psychopathy across genders have generally emerged in Western samples [7, 27], little is known regarding the role of gender in non-Western (i.e., Middle-Eastern) samples. Thus, in a set of more exploratory analyses, we also examined the potential moderating role of gender in the association between psychopathy and FFM personality domains. These analyses are important given that male and female gender roles and expectations tend to be much more clearly demarcated in most Arabic than in Western cultures.