European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 23, Issue 8, pp 691–699 | Cite as

Psychopathic-like traits in detained adolescents: clinical usefulness of self-report

  • Pauline Vahl
  • Olivier F. Colins
  • Henny P. B. Lodewijks
  • Monica T. Markus
  • Theo A. H. Doreleijers
  • Robert R. J. M. Vermeiren
Original Contribution


Studies have demonstrated that self-report tools can be used to reliably and validly examine psychopathic-like traits in adolescents. However, it is unclear if self-report instruments are still reliable and valid when confidentiality cannot be guaranteed, such as during routine assessments in juvenile detention centres. To address this issue, the current study used data from the routine mental health screening of 365 detained male adolescents (12–18 years) in two juvenile detention centres. With the intention of gaining insight in the clinical usefulness of self-reported psychopathic-like traits, we examined relations known from literature with emotional and behavioural features. Self-reported psychopathic-like traits, measured by the Youth Psychopathic Traits Inventory-Short version (YPI-S), were uniquely associated with substance abuse, anger/irritability, conduct problems and hyperactivity, but not with internalizing problems. YPI-S-dimensions showed several specific relationships with variables of interest. For example, only the callous unemotional dimension was negatively related with prosocial behaviour and only the behavioural dimension was positively related with hyperactivity. In conclusion, self-reported psychopathic-like traits showed expected relations with relevant variables. These findings suggest that self-report can be used to identify detained youths with high levels of psychopathic-like traits outside a research context, thus, even when anonymity and confidentiality are not guaranteed.


Conduct problems Callous unemotional MAYSI SDQ Delinquent 



The authors wish to thank the board of directors, the staff and the detainees of Juvenile Detention Centres LSG-Rentray Lelystad and Forensisch Centrum Teylingereind for their cooperation. This study was funded by a Grant from the Ministry of Justice to LSG-Rentray and Teylingereind. All authors are affiliated with the Academic Workplace Forensic Care for Youth, funded by The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw, The Hague; Grant No. 159010002).

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author declares that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pauline Vahl
    • 1
    • 2
  • Olivier F. Colins
    • 1
    • 2
  • Henny P. B. Lodewijks
    • 1
    • 3
  • Monica T. Markus
    • 1
    • 2
  • Theo A. H. Doreleijers
    • 1
    • 4
  • Robert R. J. M. Vermeiren
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Academic Workplace Forensic Care for YouthZutphenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Curium-LUMC, Leiden University Medical Centre, Academic Centre for Child and Adolescent PsychiatryOegstgeestThe Netherlands
  3. 3.LSG-RentrayZutphenThe Netherlands
  4. 4.VUmc de BasculeDuivendrechtThe Netherlands

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