, Volume 40, Issue 6, pp 971-986
Date: 27 Mar 2012

Assessment of Psychopathic Traits in an Incarcerated Adolescent Sample: A Methodological Comparison

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Analyses of convergent validity and group assignment using self-report, caregiver-report and interview-based measures of adolescent psychopathy were conducted in a sample of 160 incarcerated adolescents. Results reveal significant convergent validity between caregiver-report measures of adolescent psychopathy, significant convergent validity between self-report measures of adolescent psychopathy and an interviewer rating scale, but not between the caregiver-report measures and their corresponding self-report measures nor between the caregiver-report measures and the interviewer rating scale. Analyses of group assignment were also poorer than expected among all the measures with none evidencing significant agreement with the expert-rated device (Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Youth Version; PCL-YV), the most common forensic instrument used in clinical practice. Part of the poor agreement may be related to the poor psychometric performance of the callous-unemotional subscale of most of these measures and the low response rates from caregivers (N = 35). These findings suggest that the measures do not provide an interchangeable assessment of callous-unemotional traits and suggest that further refinement of the measurement of callous-unemotional traits in youth may be warranted.

This research was supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH R01 071896). The authors would like to acknowledge Amy Byrd, Olga Antonenko, and Rachel Kahn for their vital contributions to this research study. We wish to acknowledge the untimely passing of our beloved colleague, Adam Tant. His intellectual curiosity will be sorely missed.