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Psychopathic personality traits and delinquent careers: An empirical examination

by Michael G. Vaughn, Matthew O. Howard, Matt DeLisi
International Journal of Law and Psychiatry ()

Abstract

Purpose: Few studies have simultaneously investigated psychopathic traits in relation to assorted dimensions of a delinquent career. The current study examined the role that psychopathy might play in facilitating research on the small subset of youth at risk for persistent antisocial behavior. Method: This study examined psychopathic personality scores using the Antisocial Process Screening Device (APSD) and the Psychopathic Personality Inventory-Short Version (PPI-SV) in a statewide population of 723 juvenile offenders. Results: Psychopathy scores revealed a linear score-response such that higher psychopathy scores were associated with increases in general delinquency (including violent and non-violent forms), hostile aggression, and three forms of early onset delinquency, including offending, police contact, and juvenile court referral. Moreover, negative binomial regression, hierarchical linear regression, and logistic regression models revealed that psychopathy factors possessed utility in predicting all dimensions of the delinquent career net the effects of demographic and available risk factors. Conclusion: Psychopathy should be fully incorporated into criminological investigations of delinquent and criminal careers. © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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