Psychopathy: A personality disorder defined by a collection of interpersonal, affective, and
behavioural characteristics, including manipulation, lack of remorse or empathy, impulsivity, and
ASSESSMENT OF PSYCHOPATHY
The most popular way to assess psychopathy in adults is the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised
uses a semi-structured interview and a review of file information to assess interpersonal,
affective, and behavioural features of psychopathy.
A high-PCL-R group (often called psychopaths), defined by a score of 30 or greater
A middle-scoring group (mixed group), with scores between about 20 and 30
A low-scoring group (often called nonpsychopaths), with scores of below 20.
PCL-R consisted of two correlated factors
Factor 1) reflects the combination of interpersonal and affective traits- strongly related to
predatory violence, emotional-processing deficits, and poor treatment response
Factor 2) is a combination of unstable and socially deviant traits- is strongly related to
reoffending, substance abuse, lack of education, and poor family back- ground
Some researchers have argued for a three-factor model of psychopathy (1) arrogant and
deceitful interpersonal style, (2) deficient affective experience, and (3) impulsive and
irresponsible behavioural style.
This factor structure splits the original factor 1 into two factors and removes some of the
antisocial items from factor 2.
The most recent PCL-R includes these three factors plus a fourth factor called antisocial
Another way of assessing for psychopathic traits is via self-report questionnaires.
They are able to measure those attitudes and psychopaths often lie.
emotions that are not easily observed by others
They are easy to administer, quick to score, and psychopaths may not have sufficient insight to
relatively inexpensive. accurately assess their traits
It is not necessary to worry about inter- rater it will likely be difficult for psychopaths to report
reliability since only the individual is completing on specific emotions if they have not
the score experienced these emotions.
Two of the most widely used self-report scales are the Psychopathic Personality Inventory-
Revised and the Self-Report Psychopathy Scale
The PPI-R designed to measure psychopathic traits in offender and community samples.
It measures two factors- fearless dominance and self-centred impulsivity
The SRP measure designed to assess psychopathic traits in community samples.
It consists of four factors: erratic lifestyle, callous affect, interpersonal manipulation,
and criminal tendencies
Antisocial personality disorder: A personality disorder characterized by a history of behaviour in
which the rights of others are violated
there is evidence for conduct disorder before age 15 and a chronic pattern of disregarding
the rights of others since age 15.
After age 15, a person diagnosed with APD would need to display three or more of the
The prevalence of APD is very high in prisons, with up to 80% of adult offenders being diagnosed with this disorder
nearly all psychopathic offenders meet the diagnostic criteria for APD, but most offenders
diagnosed with APD are not psychopaths.
APD symptoms are most strongly related to the behavioural features of psychopathy and not
to the interpersonal or affective features
Sociopath: describe those people who had problems with or refused to adapt to society.
proposed that sociopaths manifest similar traits as psychopaths but develop these traits as a
result of poor parenting and other environmental factors, whereas psychopaths are
genetically predisposed to a temperament that makes them difficult to socialize.
psychopathy and associated constructs were used to make Canadian sentencing decisions:
to support a case's transfer from youth to adult court
to contribute to dangerous offender hearings,
to help to determine parole eligibility
to assess mental state at time of offence hearings
PSYCHOPATHY AND VIOLENCE
involvement in serious repetitive crime and violence is out of proportion to their numbers.
Psychopaths are high-density (prolific), versatile offenders and engage in instrumental
violence (premeditated violence to obtain some goal)
Compared to nonpsychopathic offenders,
they start their criminal career at a younger age and persist longer,
engage in more violent offences,
commit a greater variety of violent offences,
engage in more violence within institutions,
are more likely to be violent after release
more likely to be predatory in nature,
motivated by readily identifiable goals,
Higher PCL-R scores were found for cases: with multiple versus single offenders, stranger
victims, and male victims; for offender who left the scene of the murder; and for offenders
who denied responsibility for the murder.
Psychopathic offenders were given early release from prison more often than
IN THE COMMUNITY
community samples has used the Hare Psychopathy Checklist Screening Version
takes time to administer and places less emphasis on criminal behaviour for scoring
Regardless of sample, females consistently score lower than males on the PCL:SV and
other psychopathy measures
The professionals with psychopathic traits were less likely to be team players, had poorer
management skills, and had poorer performance appraisals- BUT were more creative,
engaged in more strategic thinking, and had stronger communication skills
Eight characteristics of male psychopaths in heterosexual relationships were found:
(1) talking victim into victimization, (7) assault,
(2) lying, (8) mistreatment of children
(3) economic abuse,
(4) emotional abuse/psychological
(5) multiple infidelities,
(6) isolation and coercion, SEXUAL VIOLENCE
rapists, PCL-R score was associated with their number of prior offences but not
the number of prior sexual offences.
Because of the higher rate of sexual offends in child molesters, who aren’t
In general, offenders who commit sexual homicides (homicides that have a sexual
component or in which sexual arousal occurs) are the most psychopathic, followed by
mixed sexual offenders (those who sexually assault both children and adults), followed by
rapists, with the lowest psychopathy scores found among child molesters
Sexual sadists: are those people who are sexually aroused by fantasies, urges, or acts of
inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation on another human
psychopaths seek treatment only when it is in their best interests to do so
Treatment was associated with a reduction in violent recidivism among nonpsychopaths
but an increase in violent recidivism among psychopaths.
may not work because of the use of an inappropriate treatment and problems in
implementing the treatment
those psychopathic sex offenders who stayed in treatment showed positive treatment
gains and were less likely to violently reoffend.
PSYCHOPATHY IN YOUTH
The assumption is that psychopathy does not suddenly appear in adulthood but instead
gradually develops from various environmental and biological antecedents.
The Antisocial Process Screening Device is designed for assessing the precursors of
psychopathic traits in children.
The child is assigned a rating on various questions by parents or teachers and a self-
report version has been developed for adolescents.
study using the APSD has indicated that there was a moderate degree of stability in
psychopathic traits from age 13 to age 24.
boys who score high on the callous/unemotional dimension of the APSD have more
police contacts, more conduct problems, and are more likely to have a parent with
Hare Psychopathy Checklist: Youth Version (PCL:YV) is designed to measure
psychopathic traits and behaviours in male and female adolescents between the ages of
12 and 18.
PCL:YV has found that adolescents with many psychopathic traits become involved in
criminal behaviours at an earlier age, engage in more violence in institutions and in
the community, and are at a higher risk of reoffending once released
One aspect of psychopathy in youth that may differ from its adult counterpart is that youth
with psychopathic traits may be more responsive to interventions
Growing evidence suggests a strong genetic contribution to psychopathy.
Identical twins were much more similar in their PPI scores than were fraternal twins.
Genetic influences accounted for between 29% and 59% of the variance
Also found a strong genetic influence using the Youth Psychopathic Inventory
best predictors of adult psychopathy were having a criminal father or mother, being a son
whose father was uninvolved with him, having a low family income, coming from a disrupted family, and experiencing physical neglect.
Children who had been abused had slightly higher modified PCL-R scores
Almost half police killers had personality and behaviour features consistent with
psychopathic suspects are likely to engage in the following types of behaviours during an
1.Try to outwit the interrogator and is not be fooled by bluffs
2.Enjoy being the focus of attention
3.Attempt to control the interrogation and shock them
suggestions for interviewing a psychopathic
2.Convey experience and confidence
3.Show liking or admiration (respond to thinking that people want to learn from
5.Avoid conveying emotions
MODELS OF PSYCHOPATHY
Two of the most prominent theories of psychopathy place emphasis on either cognitive or
Response modulation deficit theory: psychopaths fail to use contextual cues that are
peripheral to a dominant response set to modulate their behaviour.
explains why psychopaths fail to learn to avoid punishment
The other theory (cognitive?) proposes that psychopaths have a deficit in the experience
of certain critical emotions that guide prosocial behaviour and inhibit deviance
lexical-decision task was given to psychopathic and nonpsychopathic offenders.
When the word was emotional, nonpsychopaths were able to identify it faster than if
the word is neutral. However, psychopaths fail to show the normal, faster reaction
time to emotional words.
the study also found that psychopaths' brain- wave activity does not differentiate
between emotional and neutral words.
Amygdala dysfunction theory= psychopaths because it regulates the expression of
emotion and emotional memory.
Adolescents= older than age 12 and younger than age 18
Anyone younger than age 12 who engages in criminal acts is processed through family and
social service agencies, usually under provincial or territorial legislation.
Youth who committed criminal acts in Canada during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
were treated as adult offenders.
Canada enacted the Juvenile Delinquents Act (JDA) in 1908, in response to the justice
system's past disregard for youthful offenders.
applied to children and youth between the ages of 7 and 16 (age 18 in some jurisdictions).
A separate court system for youth was established, and it was suggested that court
proceedings be as informal as possible in that delinquents were seen as misguided
children in need of guidance and support.
In serious cases, the JDA made it possible for delinquents to be transferred to adult court. Punishments for delinquents were to be consistent with how a parent would discipline a
could be sentenced to an industrial school where they leamed skills or a trade for
future employment, adjournment without penalty, fines, probation, and foster care.
given the informality of youth court, some youth were denied their rights, such as the right
to counsel and the right to appeal, and judges could impose open-ended sentences.
Furthermore, the broad definition of delinquency included acts that were not illegal for
The JDA was in effect until 1984, when it was replaced with the Young Offenders Act (YOA).
Under the YOA, youth had to be at least 12 years old (and up