Youth With Psychopathy Features Are Not a Discrete Class: A Taxometric Analysis
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.
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Murrie, D. C.,
Marcus, D. K.,
Douglas, K. S.,
Salekin, R. T.,
(2007). Youth With Psychopathy Features Are Not a Discrete Class: A Taxometric Analysis. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 48(7), 714-723.
Available at: http://aquila.usm.edu/fac_pubs/1970