Psychopathy and sociopathy are both anti-social personality disorders. And, while both are conditions are the result of heredity and environment, psychopathy seems more controlled by genetics and sociopathy by environment. Psychopaths are born with temperamental differences which include impulsivity, brain underarousal, and a lack of fear that may lead to behavior that is risky. They are also less likely to recognize social norms and fail to measure their role in society. Sociopaths have more typical temperament but their anti-social behavior has been an effect of poverty, abuse, and being influenced by negative peer pressure.
Although there is no “typical” psychopath or sociopath, there are clusters of behavior that distinguish each of these anti-social personality disorders. Behavioral tendencies in the psychopath include erratic behavior, impulsivity, violence, disorganization and willingness to disregard risk, and poor to no social interaction and interest. They would not actively plan and execute a crime with the expectation of not being caught. They would leave evidence of their behavior and not be concerned with consequences.
Sociopaths on the other hand are much more controlled and would not take the risk of being caught. They tend to be schemers and are frequently involved in fraud and deceit. They can appear to have normal social relationships and can use these skills to their own ends. Sociopaths are often social predators and seem to fit in with society.
Treatment is possible with medications and therapy but diagnosing anti-social personality disorder is a process that is time consuming and involves as much ruling out behavior as well as ruling in risky or anti-social activities. But, the real message in this post is that it is important to question the labels used by the media. Ask yourself if the source of the information is reliable and qualified to determine the attached label.