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Differences between the antisocial personality and the asocial personality

Differences between the antisocial personality and the asocial personality

October 4, 2022

Even though the antisocial and asocial personality are often confused in the common language , the truth is that it is two ways of being very different: the first is considered pathological because it is associated with harm to other people (antisocial behavior), while asociality refers to the lack of interest in interaction.

In this article we will describe in detail what they are and how antisocial and disocial personality differ . For this we will mainly rely on the diagnostic criteria of the DSM-IV psychological manual, as well as on contributions from other experts.

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What is the antisocial personality?

Antisocial personality is considered a type of chronic psychological disorder. The DSM-IV lists it as "Antisocial Personality Disorder" within the category "Personality Disorders"; in the case of the ICD 10 it is included among the "Specific personality disorders".


The antisocial personality disorder is characterized by recurrent behaviors that involve contempt and / or violation of the rights of other people . According to the DSM-IV, at least 3 of the following diagnostic criteria must be met:

  • Repeated non-compliance with laws that can lead to arrests.
  • Lies and dishonest behaviors in order to obtain benefits or pleasure.
  • Impulsivity and lack of planning for the future.
  • Irritability and aggressiveness that manifest themselves in physical and / or verbal aggressions.
  • Lack of concern for their own safety and / or that of others.
  • Maintained irresponsibility; for example, inability to comply with economic and labor obligations.
  • Absence of remorse regarding harmful behavior.

To be able to diagnose antisocial personality disorder it is necessary that the person is at least 18 years old , as well as that some of the criteria described have been present since the age of 15 or earlier.


  • Related article: "Antisocial Personality Disorder: causes, symptoms and treatment"

Dissocial disorder as an early manifestation

Before the age of majority, persistent antisocial behaviors are classified with the label "Dissocial disorder", which the DSM-IV includes in the category "Disorders of attention deficit and disturbing behavior", in turn one of the sections of the macro-category "Disorders of onset in childhood, childhood or adolescence" .

The diagnostic criteria of the disorder also focus on the violation of the rights of other people. In particular, the criteria are categorized into four blocks: aggression against people and animals (physical cruelty, armed robbery, etc.), destruction of property (eg causing fires), fraud or theft and serious violations of regulations.


The dissocial disorder is considered the precursor of antisocial disorder , more serious since it occurs in more advanced stages of development. The earlier the symptoms appear ("Dyssocial disorder of onset in childhood"), the more likely it is that they will be serious and that they will remain as an adult as an antisocial personality disorder.

Defining asociality

The term "asocial" is used to describe the people who do not feel interest in social interaction or that they prefer to be alone. It is a characteristic not pathological especially of very introverted people, although in today's society, dominated by extroverted personalities, it is usually seen as problematic.

Hans Eysenck proposed that the degree of extraversion of people depends on the activity of the central nervous system, specifically the ascending reticular activating system (SARA). Extroverted people have a low level of activation, so they require a lot of external stimulation; the opposite happens with the introverts.

In this sense, it seems likely that many people qualified as asocial are simply very introverted , to the point that external stimulation, including social stimulation, becomes more or less unpleasant. Environmental factors can also influence the development of this personality type, on the other hand.

As it is not a pathology, the diagnostic manuals do not include any "asocial personality disorder", as it does with the antisocial disorder. However, some psychological disorders are clearly related to the lack of social interest and the lack of pleasure in interacting with other people.

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Related psychological disorders

There are several personality disorders collected in the DSM-IV that are characterized in a remarkable way by asociality. In particular, schizoid personality disorder is defined as a pattern of behavior in which the tendency to isolation, emotional coldness, apathy and lack of interest in social relationships predominate.

The schizotypal disorder is also related to asociality, although in this case the lack of social contact is due more to social anxiety (which does not diminish with familiarity) and extravagant behavior. In schizophrenia, which is related to this disorder and the previous one, similar asocial signs can occur.

People with avoidant personality disorder , on the other hand, they would like to relate more but they are overcome by anxiety and by the fear of making a fool of themselves. Avoidant disorder is considered an extreme manifestation of social phobia (or social anxiety), in which asocial behaviors can also occur.

  • Related article: "Personality Disorder by Avoidance: extreme shyness?"

What is the difference between them?

Certainly there are few similarities between these two personality types; The frequent confusion between antisociality and asociality is fundamentally due to the superficial similarity between the two words , more than the fact that they share characteristics.

In particular, the word "antisocial" is usually used to describe asocial behaviors, that is, related to the lack of interest in social relationships. However, the concept of antisocial personality refers to actions against society and those who compose it, not the passive rejection of social interaction.

The prefix "anti-" means "opposite to", "against" or "preventing"; thus, in a literal way, antisocial persons are those who oppose social norms and / or act against others. Instead the prefix "a-" indicates negation or absence (we could translate it as "without"), so that asociality would be the lack of social interaction .

In any case, and given that these are two different personality dimensions, antisociality and asociality do not have to exclude each other. In fact, it is relatively common for people with antisocial disorder to feel some degree of rejection of social interaction, in a way that we could qualify as misanthrope.


ADHD and Anti-Social Personality Disorder: Minimizing the Risks (October 2022).


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