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Using the PAI-A to Classify Juvenile Offenders by Adjudicated Offenses


To improve understanding and treatment of criminal behavior, researchers have developed typologies of juvenile offenders, primarily focusing on personality traits and criminal history to classify according to type of offense committed. Existing literature has examined underlying personality characteristics found in different subcategories of criminal offenses in juveniles; however, few studies have employed the Personality Assessment Inventory-Adolescent (PAI-A), instead choosing the MMPI-A. A typical classification model of juvenile offenses categorizes offenses into: Interpersonal, Property, and Drug/Alcohol-related charges, to further study within-group differences. The current study examines how personality profiles, examined by the PAI-A, can classify offenders into these offense-type groups. Personality profiles of participants were obtained through pre-sentencing psychological evaluations of 142 juvenile offenders ages 14 to 17. Binary logistic regressions were conducted using PAI-A Clinical, Treatment Consideration, and Interpersonal scales to predict offense-type group classifications. Results yielded statistically significant full models for all offense-type groups, with an average overall accuracy rate of 76.3%. Overall, results suggest that the PAI-A has good predictive power to classify juvenile offender types, and may be more effective in classifying certain types of offenders than the MMPI-A. Notably, Interpersonal and Treatment consideration scales were stronger predictors of offense-type than Clinical scales. This model of juvenile offender classification holds promise for more effective treatment, management, and prediction of behavior for juvenile offenders.

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Correspondence to Sara L. Dolan.

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Humenik, A.M., Sherrill, B.N., Kantor, R.M. et al. Using the PAI-A to Classify Juvenile Offenders by Adjudicated Offenses. Journ Child Adol Trauma 12, 469–477 (2019).

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  • Juvenile offenders
  • Offender classification
  • Personality assessment inventory-adolescent
  • PAI-A