How to identify sociopathic behavior

Updated April 17, 2017

A sociopath is a person who completely disregards and violates the rights of others while refusing to conform to societal norms. There are many characteristics to help identify sociopathic behaviour.

Notice if the person exhibits a lack of conscience. Signs of sociopathic behaviour are usually present in childhood, so take note if you witness a person torturing or killing animals, showing no emotions when something bad happens to someone else, or showing no guilt or remorse for any of his own actions.

See if there is a pattern of irresponsible or poor behaviour, including doing poorly in school or on the job. Other behaviours to look for are recklessness, impulsivity and participation in illegal activities.

Pay attention to the person’s personal relationships. Many sociopathic people have an inability to love or have lasting personal relationships. This is because they can be very manipulative.

Recognise patterns of pathological lying. Sociopaths will continue to lie about things even if they are caught doing them. They can also be very charming and get others who are blind to their behaviours to side with them.

Notice if a person has an inflated sense of self-importance or narcissism. A sociopath behaves as if she is the only person who matters and she will have complete disregard for everyone else. Although she has the ability to charm people, she will take advantage of them at the same time.

See if the person exhibits a need for stimulation by engaging in risky or dangerous behaviours. These behaviours can be sexual or just thrill-seeking. Sociopaths tend to get bored easily, which is why they seldom complete tasks and seek out forms of excitement.


Sociopathic behaviour usually continues into adulthood. If you recognise this behaviour in someone you know, be careful if you have to be around him. For your protection, distance yourself from him altogether.

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About the Author

Nico Riley has been a professional writer since 2006 with work appearing on various websites. Riley holds an associate degree in criminal justice from Harold Washington College and a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She enjoys writing on topics about society, culture, health, self-help and entertainment.