Self-Report Measures of Psychopathy: What is their Role in Forensic Assessments?
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Psychopaths have long been characterized as having a remarkable disregard for the truth, to the extent that deceit is often regarded as a defining characteristic of the syndrome (Porter and Woodworth 2006). Although the PCL-R is considered the general standard for evaluating psychopathy, self-report measures have become more widely available and researched. The current study evaluated the ability of jail detainees with moderate and high levels of psychopathy to successfully engage in Positive Impression Management (PIM) on three self-report measures (i.e., SRP-4, LSRP, and PPI–R). Overall, detainees were successfully able to mask their psychopathy, achieving average scores that are even lower than college and community samples. Predictably, detainees with higher levels of psychopathy were generally able to achieve larger decreases than others on psychopathy measures. To identify PIM, we investigated the PPI-R Virtuous Responding (VR) Scale and a modified Social Desirability–Psychopathy (SDP) index for the SRP-4. Overall, self-report measures of psychopathy evidence only modest convergence with the PCL-R and have proven to be highly susceptible to PIM.
KeywordsPsychopathy Psychopathy-Checklist Revised PCL-R Positive impression management SRP-4 LSRP PPI-R
Conflict of interest
Katherine R. Kelsey, Richard Rogers, and Emily V. Robinson declare that they have no conflict of interest.
The study was approved by the University of North Texas IRB, and it followed the approved procedures.
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