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The concept of psychopathy has received considerable attention in adults but it has been only in the last decade that greater attention has been devoted to psychopathic characteristics in child and adolescent populations. Much of this attention was fueled by the early work of Frick (e.g., Frick, O'Brien, Wootton, & McBurnett, 1994) and Lynam (1996) who began developing psychopathy measures for children and adolescents during the early-to-mid 1990s. These assessment tools were primarily downward extensions of Hare's Psychopathy Checklist--Revised (PCL-R; Hare, 1991) and were administered either to parents and/or to children themselves. Also, during the mid 1990s, a third derivative of the PCL-R was developed, namely, the Psychopathy Checklist--Youth Version (PCL-YV; Forth, Kosson, & Hare, 2003). The PCL-YV was designed to assess psychopathy in adolescents via a semistructured interview and rating scale (see Forth et al., 2003).
With the advent of child psychopathy measures, the applicability of the psychopathy construct to youthful populations became a focal point of much research. Child and adolescent psychopathy researchers argued that scientific investigations in this area might help to explain the heterogeneity in Conduct Disorder (CD), facilitate research investigating the etiology of psychopathy, and, in turn, promote the development of intervention and prevention programs (Caspi & Bem, 1990; Frick, 2002; Lynam, 1996, 1997; Salekin, Neumann, Leistico, & Zalot, 2004; Salekin, Rogers, & Machin, 2001; Viding, Blair, Moffitt, & Plomin, 2004; Vincent & Hart, 2002). With these overarching scientific objectives in mind, research on child and adolescent psychopathy was set in motion.
Over the past decade, knowledge regarding the theoretical and empirical applicability of the psychopathy concept to children and adolescents has expanded at a fast pace. This research has shown that psychopathy in children and adolescents is linked to Conduct Disorder (CD) (Forth & Burke, 1998; Frick, 1998; Lynam, 1998), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), higher levels of self-reported rates and variety of delinquency (Corrado, Vincent, Hart, & Cohen, 2004; Falkenbach, Poythress, & Heide, 2003; Murrie, Cornell, Kaplan, McConville, & Levy-Elkon, 2004; Salekin, Ziegler, Larrea, Anthony, & Bennett, 2003), and earlier contact with the police (O'Brien & Frick, 1996). In addition, research has shown that children with psychopathic traits engage in more passive avoidance errors, show a reward dominance style (Barry et al., 2000; O'Brien & Frick, 1996), and show a preference for thrill and adventure seeking (Frick et al., 1994). Other correlates, such as narcissism (Barry, Frick, & Killian, 2003) and reduced levels of anxiety (Frick, Lilienfeld, Ellis, Loney, & Silverthorn, 1999), have also been linked to child and adolescent psychopathy. These relations parallel the correlates found in adult psychopathic samples.
Recently, Widiger and Lynam (1998) and their colleagues (e.g., Brinkley, Newman, Widiger, & Lynam, 2004; Lynam, Whiteside, & Jones, 1999; Miller, Lynam, Widiger, & Luekefeld, 2001; Widiger, 1998) have argued that psychopathy can be understood from the perspective of the Five-Factor Model of personality (FFM; McCrae & Costa, 1990). The model emphasizes five broad domains of personality: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness. This model has considerable empirical support with convergent and discriminant validity across self, peer, and spouse ratings (Costa & McCrae, 1988), good temporal stability (7-10 years; Costa, Herbst, McCrae, & Siegler, 2000; Costa & McCrae, 1994), and heritability evidence (Jang, McCrae, Angleitner, Reimann, & Livesley, 1988; Plomin & Caspi, 1999). Widiger and Lynam contend that the Big 5 Factors of personality can provide further meaningful elements of the nomological network surrounding psychopathy. According to theory, psychopathy should be negatively associated with conscientiousness and agreeableness, an association that has already been demonstrated with adults (e.g., Miller et al., 2001). (4) Importantly, two studies (Lynam, 2002a, 2002b; Lynam, Caspi, Moffitt, Raine, Loeber, & Loeber-Stouthamer, 2005) have examined psychopathy and its relation to the Big 5 factors of personality in children and adolescents and these results parallel those found with adults.
Building on the work of Lynam and Widiger and their colleagues (Widiger & Lynam, 1998), we examined the relation between psychopathy and constructs within the interpersonal circumplex, a related but separate model of general personality. To our knowledge, no studies have examined the construct validity of psychopathy in child and adolescent populations from the perspective of constructs within interpersonal models and there are some compelling reasons for doing so. Because interpersonal models explicate the social nature and complexities of interpersonal relationships, they thereby offer a novel and important way in which to augment the work of Widiger and Lynam (1998) and allow for the further examination of the construct validity of adolescent psychopathy. Fortunately, interpersonal concepts have been translated into concrete measurement tools that have provided the underpinnings for the interpersonal assessment tradition evidenced over the past 40 years (Leary, 1957; Wiggins, 1979, 1995).
The Interpersonal Circumplex provides measures of eight categories of interpersonal variables that are referred to as octants. The octants of the interpersonal circle are: Assured-Dominant (PA), Arrogant-Calculating (BC), Cold-hearted (DE), Aloof-Introverted (FG), Unassured-submissive (HI), Warm-Agreeable (LM), and Gregarious-Extraverted (NO). There exists substantial empirical literature on the correlates of the interpersonal circumplex model (e.g., Kiesler, 1996; Plutchik & Conte, 1997) and the measure is compelling, not only for its range, but also for its interpretability. In particular, the mathematical properties underlying the circumplex structure are such that the "angle of separation between interpersonal tendencies provides a direct measure of their conceptual and componential similarities" (Gurtman, 1992, p. 106, emphases in original). These lawful relations are reflected in the geometry of the circumplex. Specifically, measures that occur at right angles on the circle are unrelated, measures at straight angles (i.e., opposite ends or sides of the circle) are negatively associated, and measures that share angular locations are highly similar. Accordingly, the interpersonal circumplex framework provides elements from a model of general personality that may allow for the expansion of the nomological net surrounding adolescent psychopathy.
We developed several specific hypotheses for the current study. First, based on theory and past research with adult samples (Foreman, 1988; Salekin, Trobst, & Krioukova, 2001; Widiger & Lynam, 1998), we hypothesized that psychopathy would project into the cold-hearted and dominant quadrant of the interpersonal circumplex. That is, psychopathy, as assessed by current child and adolescent psychopathy scales, would be associated with the BC (arrogant-calculating) and DE (cold-hearted) quadrant of the interpersonal circle. Second, we examined elements of the nomological net for adolescent psychopathy by testing specific hypotheses regarding how psychopathy ought to be associated with the Big 5 Factors of personality [also measured via the IASR-B5; Trapnell & Wiggins, 1991; Wiggins, 1995]. Based on the previous work conducted by Widiger and Lynam and their colleagues (e.g., Brinkley et al., 2004; Lynam, 2002a; Widiger & Lynam, 1998), we hypothesized that psychopathy would be strongly negatively related to agreeableness and conscientiousness and relatively uncorrelated with extraversion, openness, and neuroticism at the domain level.
Participants were 114 child and adolescent offenders at a southeastern juvenile detention center (70.2% male; 29.8% female). The participants had a mean age of 15.16 years (SD = 1.50; range = 11-18). The racial composition of the sample was 56.8% African Americans and 43.2% Caucasian Americans. Representative crimes included disorderly conduct, theft, assault, and other violent offenses.
Antisocial Process Screening Device (APSD; Frick & Hare, 2001)
The APSD is a 20-item trait and behavioral rating scale for assessing psychopathy in children and adolescents. Because the APSD is modeled after the PCL-R it is intended to assess the prototypical psychopath as described by Hart, Hare, and Forth (1994). These authors state that the prototype for psychopathy involves a "cluster of personality traits and socially deviant behaviors; a glib and superficial charm; egocentricity; selfishness; lack of empathy, guilt, and remorse; deceitfulness and manipulativeness; lack of enduring attachments to people, principles, or goals; impulsive and irresponsible behavior; and a tendency to violate explicit social norms" (p. 103). The APSD can be considered either a two- or three-factor measure (Frick et al., 1994; Frick, Bodin, & Barry, 2000). The APSD was originally designed to assess these traits based on ratings by parents and teachers in preadolescent children (Frick et al., 1994); however, the APSD self-report version asks adolescents for their own appraisal of psychopathic traits. Loney, Frick, Clements, Ellis, and Kerlin (2003) provide a compelling rationale for using the self-report scale to assess psychopathic features among adolescents. First, evidence exists to show that the reliability of child report for assessing most types of child psychopathology increases in adolescence, while the validity of parent and teacher report decreases (Kamphaus & Frick, 1996). Second, there may be dysfunctional families with significant histories of out-of-home placements meaning that parents may not be available to complete measures (or reliably complete measures). Finally, the self-report version of the APSD has been successfully used to differentiate subgroups of juvenile offenders in other adolescent samples (e.g., Caputo, Frick, & Brodsky, 1999; Kruh, Frick, & Clements, 2005; Loney et al., 2003; Silverthorn, Frick, & Reynolds, 2002), and other self-report measures have proven useful for assessing psychopathic traits in adolescent and young adult samples (Lilienfeld & Andrews, 1996; Lynam et al., 1999; Poythress, Edens, & Lilienfeld, 1998; Salekin et al., 2003).
Child Psychopathy Scale …