PSYCH 3CC3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 11: Age 13, Prison, Longitudinal Study

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8 Dec 2013
Psych 3CC3: Forensic Psychology
Chapter 11: Psychopaths
Assessment of Psychopathy
- Psychopathy is a personality disorder defined by a collection of
interpersonal, affective, and behavioural characteristics
- Cleckley described 16 features ranging from positive features, emotional-
interpersonal features, and behavioural problems
- Hare Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R):
20-item rating scale that uses a semi-structured interview and a
review of file information to assess interpersonal, affective, and
behavioural features of psychopathy
Two factor model:
Factor 1 reflects the combination of interpersonal and affective
traits and is related to predatory violence, emotional-
processing deficits, and poor treatment response
Factor 2 is a combination of unstable and socially deviant
behaviours and is related to reoffending, substance abuse, lack
of education, and poor family background
Three-factor model: arrogant and deceitful interpersonal style,
deficient affective experience, and impulsive and irresponsible
behavioural style
Fourth factor called antisocial that includes the antisocial items
Use of PCL-R is supported in a range of samples
- Self-report questionnaires:
Able to measure those attitudes and emotions that are not easily
observed by others
Easy to administer, quick to score, and relatively inexpensive
Not necessary to worry about interater reliability since only the
individual is completing the score
Some questionnaires include measures of response styles to detect
faking good or faking bad
Psychopaths often lie
Psychopaths may not have sufficient insight to accurately assess their
Likely to be difficult for psychopaths to report on specific emotions If
they have not experienced these emotions
Psychopathic personality inventory-revised
Self-report psychopathy scale
Psychopathy and Antisocial Personality Disorder
- Antisocial personality disorder refers to a personality disorder in which
there is evidence for conduct disorder before age 25and a chronic pattern of
disregarding the rights of others since age 15. After age 15:
Repeatedly engaging in criminal acts
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Reckless behaviours
Lack of remorse
- The constructs of APD, psychopathy, and sociopathy are related but distinct
- 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
- APD places more emphasis on antisocial behaviours than does the PCL-R
- Prevalence of APD is very high in prisons
- Nearly all psychopathic offenders meet the diagnostic criteria for APD, but
most offenders diagnosed with APD are not psychopaths
- APD symptoms are related to the behavioural features of psychopathy and
not the interpersonal or affective features
Forensic Use of Psychopathy
- Majority of testimony regarding psychopathy has been associated with an
increased severity of disposition
- In Canada, psychopathy is used in making 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, and to assess mental state at
time of offence hearings
- With respect to the insanity defence, a diagnosis of psychopathy does fulfill
the disease of the mind requirement, but it has never fulfilled the second
requirement of not appreciating the nature of quality of the act or knowing
what is wrong
Psychopathy and Violence
- Characteristics that ordinarily help to inhibit aggression and violence, are
lacking or relatively ineffective in psychopaths
- High-density (prolific), versatile offenders
- 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, and are more likely to be violent after
- Psychopathic violence is more likely to be predatory in nature, motivated by
readily identifiable goals, and carried out in a callous, calculated manner
without the emotional context that usually characterizes the violence of
other offenders
- Offenders who engage in instrumental violence score higher on measures of
psychopathy than do offenders engaging in reactive violence
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