Youth with psychopathy features are not a discrete class: a taxometric analysis
Department of Psychiatry
Adolescent; Antisocial Personality Disorder; Factor Analysis, Statistical; Female; Humans; *Interview, Psychological; Juvenile Delinquency; Male; Prisoners
Health Services Research | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology
BACKGROUND: Recently, researchers have sought to measure psychopathy-like features among youth in hopes of identifying children who may be progressing toward a particularly destructive form of adult pathology. However, it remains unclear whether psychopathy-like personality features among youth are best conceptualized as dimensional (distributed along a continuum) or taxonic (such that youth with psychopathic personality characteristics are qualitatively distinct from non-psychopathic youth).
METHODS: This study applied taxometric analyses (MAMBAC, MAXEIG, and L-Mode) to scores from two primary measures of youth psychopathy features: the Psychopathy Checklist: Youth Version (N = 757) and the self-report Antisocial Process Screening Device (N = 489) among delinquent boys.
RESULTS: All analyses supported a dimensional structure, indicating that psychopathy features among youth are best understood as existing along a continuum.
CONCLUSIONS: Although youth clearly vary in the degree to which they manifest psychopathy-like personality traits, there is no natural, discrete class of young 'psychopaths.' This finding has implications for developmental theory, treatment, assessment strategies, research, and clinical/forensic practice.
DOI of Published Version
J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2007 Jul;48(7):714-23. Link to article on publisher's site
Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines
Murrie DC, Marcus DK, Douglas KS, Lee Z, Salekin RT, Vincent GM. (2007). Youth with psychopathy features are not a discrete class: a taxometric analysis. Implementation Science and Practice Advances Research Center Publications. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2007.01734.x. Retrieved from https://escholarship.umassmed.edu/psych_cmhsr/367