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Antisocial Behavior: Definition & Examples

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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Emily Cummins
This lesson goes over antisocial behavior, or behavior that is reckless and threatening, usually associated with the mental illness known as antisocial personality disorder. We'll cover some examples of the behaviors consistent with this diagnosis.

Definition of Antisocial Behavior

While, at first thought, an anti-social person might seem to mean someone who does not like social situations, there is actually a specific meaning in psychology. Antisocial behavior refers to patterns of behavior where a person disregards the feelings of others. Antisocial tendencies mean that a person lacks empathy, which means the ability to understand the feelings of others, and does not care about how he or she makes others feel.

Antisocial behavior is generally associated with antisocial personality disorder, which is a psychological condition involving different types of antisocial behavior. Sometimes, antisocial personality disorder might be referred to as sociopathy or psychopathy, but those are not actually clinical terms. Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by dysfunctional relationships to other people. Basically, people with antisocial personality disorder do not interact with others in normal ways. Because of this, and because this illness is also characterized by drug use, people often have a very difficult time functioning at work or school or maintaining relationships.

Examples of Antisocial Behavior

People who have antisocial personality disorder have a tendency to resist conforming to social norms, or accepted ways of behaving in society. People might engage in risk-taking behavior, such as drug use or driving excessively fast on the expressway. Generally, people suffering from antisocial personality disorder have a serious disregard for the feelings of others. Racing down the road at 150 miles per hour shows a lack of respect for the safety of other drivers, for example.

There are two major components of antisocial personality disorder: antagonism and disinhibition. Antagonism means traits like deceitfulness or hostility. For example, if you work with a person experiencing antisocial personality disorder, you might find that he or she is very aggressive during meetings and snaps or yells at co-workers, sometimes even when unprovoked. This person might feel themselves to be the most important person in the office, demonstrating a sense of inflated self-worth, common in people with this disorder. Disinhibition means risk taking, impulsiveness and irresponsibility. A person engaging in disinhibited behaviors might steal or vandalize a building in a fit of reckless behavior. In some cases, antisocial behavior leads to consequences such as divorce, substance abuse, depression and criminal charges.

People with antisocial personality disorder might also act very charming. Because people with this disorder tend to be very deceitful, this charm is generally fake and can be used to trick people.

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