Instrumentally violent youths: The roles of psychopathic traits, empathy, and attachment

  • Flight J
  • Forth A
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Abstract

Psychopathy in adults has been well documented as a robust predictor of violence. Explanations for this relation have focused on the affective deficit that characterizes psychopathy. This study examined the relations among psychopathic traits, empa- thy, attachment, and motivations for violence in 51 incarcerated adolescent offenders. Psychopathy scores were related to both instrumental and reactive violence. Youths who were classified as instrumentally violent scored higher on psychopathy than those who were not, which could be attributed to the interpersonal and affective features of psychopathy. These findings pro- vide support for the construct of psychopathy existing in youths. Implications of the current study for potential interventions and prevention of persistent violent offending are discussed.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Attachment
  • Empathy
  • Psychopathic traits
  • Violence

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Authors

  • Jillian I. Flight

  • Adelle E. Forth

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