Date of Award

Summer 8-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Bradley Green

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Christopher Barry

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Tammy Barry

Committee Member 3 Department


Committee Member 4

Michael Madson

Committee Member 4 Department



The current study is the first known study to investigate the effectiveness of Motivational Interviewing (MI) as a motivational enhancement intervention in at-risk adolescents with psychopathic traits and substance use (SU) problems. Further, it examined whether such an intervention can improve problematic behavior (i.e., aggression, delinquency) and treatment responsivity deficits (i.e., motivation to change) associated with psychopathy and SU. The effectiveness of MI was examined using a randomized treatment-control design in which adolescents were assigned to either a three-session group-based MI intervention and a residential treatment or a group receiving only the residential treatment without the MI component. Participants were 95 adolescent males (age range between 16 and 18; M = 16.91). Although MI improved motivation to change SU relative to the residential program, youth in the MI group did not report fewer SU problems or antisocial behavior compared to youth in the control group. Similarly, MI did not consistently improve motivation to change psychopathy-related behavior compared to the residential program and did not reduce the expression of core psychopathic personality traits across time. Implications for how the current MI protocol can be improved through future research are discussed.