"We have underestimated the number of female psychopaths", expert says. Freepik

Experts have found that there might be more female psychopaths than previously considered.

According to Corporate Psychopathy Researcher Dr Clive Boddy, employed at Anglia Ruskin University, there are more female psychopaths in the corporate setting than expected.

Speaking to 3AW Breakfast, Boddy said: "It looks like we have just underestimated how many female psychopaths there are."

Boddy continued to reveal that the traits of female psychopathy include "superficial charm, untruthfulness, insincerity, a cheating personality, an egocentric view of the world, no remorse or regret about how they hurt people as they scramble their way to the top, an emotional and relational shallowness which results in being unresponsive to personal interactions, they never take responsibility for their own actions – especially when mistakes are made and while at the same time they claim the good work of other people as their own and they don't get flustered".

Female psychopaths are "always calm, poised and rational no matter what disaster, circumstances or lies that you discover them in", he added.

Boddy's own research, which compared surveys of white-collar workers, suggested that the traits were not uncommon in females.

"Around 12% to 13% of females have enough of those traits to be potentially problematic," Boddy explained.

While the world imagines psychopaths to be violent and antisocial criminals, Boddy revealed that "the behaviour of female psychopaths seems to be subtle".

Only "a small body of evidence describes female psychopaths as prone to expressing violence verbally rather than physically", which is perhaps why they are "less obvious than male psychopaths and therefore they're not recognised as much", he added.

Engaging in verbal abuse shows a "relational and emotional nature", making female psychopaths harder to identify and "more subtle and less obvious than that expressed by male psychopaths," Boddy explained, noting that the verbal violence expressed by female psychopaths also includes spreading rumours and lies for personal advantage.

"Psychopaths are after money, power and control," he said, "they see the greed, untruthfulness and ruthlessness of those at the top and this undermines democracy and the rule of law".

"In the literature, you get quotes of ten to one, or five to one, or four to one in terms of male-female ratios of psychopathy and now it is getting more like one to one," Boddy added.

He went on to note that female psychopaths have been going unnoticed "partly because we are using measures to identify them that are based on male-criminal samples".

The assessment that is currently used to help identify psychopathic traits, is known as the Levenson self-report psychopathy scale (LSRP).

"Some of the items in those measures aren't necessarily good at identifying female psychopathy," the expert on corporate psychopathy said.

The LSRP assessment focuses on finding violent and antisocial traits, while also looking at how emotionally detached a subject is.

The assessment is conducted in two parts, with the first part focussing on detachment and behavioural traits – including selfishness, manipulation and carelessness.

The second part looks for violent intentions.

With regard to the second element of the assessment, Boddy said: "The measures for it were largely based on studies of criminals who were in jail at the time and psychopathic – so the feeling is, among researchers these days, that those measures are just not suited to identifying female psychopathy."

So far, there have also been more studies on psychopathy in men, compared to that of women, Boddy said, recognising how assessors may be reluctant to diagnose females as psychopaths.