Neuropsychological measures of executive function and antisocial behavior: A meta-analysis

J.M. Ogilvie, A.L. Stewart, R.C.K. Chan, Ho Keung David Shum

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

313 Citations (Scopus)


A meta-analysis was performed to quantify the association between antisocial behavior (ASB) and performance on neuropsychological executive functioning (EF) measures. This meta-analysis built on Morgan and Lilienfeld's (2000) meta-analysis of the same topic by including recently published studies and by examining a wider range of EF measures. A total of 126 studies involving 14,786 participants were included in the analyses. Antisocial groups performed significantly worse on measures of EF compared with controls, with a grand mean effect size of d= .44. Significant variation occurred in the magnitude of effect sizes calculated across studies. The largest effect sizes were found for criminality (d= .61) and externalizing behavior disorder (d= .54) ASB groups, whereas the smallest effect sizes were found for antisocial personality disorder (d= .19) groups. Larger differences in EF performance were observed across studies involving participants from correctional settings and with comorbid attention deficit and hyperactivity problems. Overall, the results indicated that a robust association exists between ASB and poor EF that held across studies with varied methodological approaches. The methodological issues in the research literature and the implications of the meta-analysis results are discussed, and the directions for future research are proposed. © 2011 American Society of Criminology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1063-1107
Number of pages45
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Antisocial behavior
  • Executive function
  • Meta-analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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