Psychopathy and Anxiety in Children and Adolescents: New Insights on Developmental Pathways to Offending

Article

Abstract

This study examined the relation between psychopathy and anxiety in 130 juvenile offenders. Adolescents were administered three psychopathy scales (PCL-YV, APSD, and SRP-II), a measure of psychopathology (APS), and subsequently followed prospectively in the community for three years in order to track recidivism. Three mediational models were tested to determine whether psychopathy mediates the relation between anxiety (trait anxiety, fearlessness, and trauma) and future offending. Findings indicated that psychopathy mediated the relation between two types of anxiety (trait anxiety and fearlessness) and recidivism when using the PCL-YV as an index for psychopathy. These influences were not supported when using self-report measures of psychopathy (APSD and SRP-II) and the meditational models did not apply to the anxiety subtype of trauma for any of the psychopathy measures. The PCL-YV mediational models provide new insights on the relation between psychopathy anxiety and offending. Specifically, pathways from fearlessness to psychopathy and later offending were in the expected direction. Surprisingly, higher levels of trait anxiety were linked with higher levels of psychopathy and subsequent offending. This developmental difference is in contrast with theory and the adult literature on this topic. The results from the current study suggest that both fear and anxiety may be important considerations in treatment planning for the reduction of adolescent offending.

Keywords

Psychopathy Anxiety Children Adolescents Re-arrest 

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Center for the Prevention of Youth Behavior ProblemsThe University of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA

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