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A Multi-method Assessment of Juvenile Psychopathy: Comparing the Predictive Utility of the PCL:YV, YPI, and NEO-PRI

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Publication Date: July 2008

Publisher(s): MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice (ADJJ)

Author(s): Kate Monahan; Julia Dmitrieva; Eva R. Kimonis; Elizabeth Cauffman

Topic: Law and ethics (Criminal law)
Social conditions (Social research)

Keywords: Juvenile delinquency; Psychology; Juvenile psychopathy; Youth offenders

Coverage: United States


The present study examines the relation between three unique approaches to measuring psychopathy: a clinical interview method (the Psychopathy Checklist: Youth Version), a new self-report measure (the Youth Psychopathic Traits Inventory), and a personality-based approach (the NEO Personality Inventory-Revised), as well as the utility of each method to predict short- (6 and 12 months) and long-term (3-years) offending among a sample of serious juvenile offenders. Results indicate a modest degree of overlap between all three measures (r's = .26 to .36); however, youth identified as psychopathic by one measure are not necessarily classified as psychopathic by other measures. Measures were weakly correlated with offending during the subsequent 6- and 12- month follow-up periods and the PCL:YV did not predict offending 3 years later. Findings suggest that while such scores may be useful indicators of the need for heightened monitoring in the short-term, they do not predict long-term recidivism. More importantly, the fact that a youth could be identified as psychopathic on one measure of psychopathy, but not consistently on other measures of psychopathy, raises concerns about the validity of these measures for making legal or clinical treatment decisions.


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