Psychopathic, Not Psychopath: Taxometric Evidence for the Dimensional Structure of Psychopathy.

Department of Psychology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX 75275, USA.
Journal of Abnormal Psychology (Impact Factor: 4.86). 02/2006; 115(1):131-44. DOI: 10.1037/0021-843X.115.1.131
Source: PubMed


Although psychopathy is frequently regarded as qualitatively distinct from other conditions, relatively little research has examined whether psychopaths represent a distinct class of individuals. Using a sample of 876 prison inmates and court-ordered substance abuse patients who were administered the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (R. D. Hare, 2003), the authors examined the latent structure of psychopathy using several taxometric procedures developed by Meehl and colleagues (P. E. Meehl & L. J. Yonce, 1994; N. G. Waller & P. E. Meehl, 1998). The results across these procedures offer no compelling support for the contention that psychopathy is a taxonic construct and contradict previous reports that psychopathy is underpinned by a latent taxon. The authors discuss the theoretical, public policy, and practice-level implications of these findings.

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    • "ipulative remain inconsis - tent and require further investigation . This study is not without limitations . First , a clinical diagnosis of psy - chopathy is quite rare ( <1% ) in the general population ( Blair et al . , 2005 ) . 10 Although this does not invalidate our design , given that psychopathy is best understood as a dimensional concept ( Edens et al . , 2006 ) , it restricts as stated above the range in psychopathy scores in our sample , thereby possibly under - estimating the relation between psychopathy and attachment . Second , the cross - sectional nature of our findings precludes any conclusions regarding the 15 direction of the relation between psychopathy and attachment . Future stud"
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    • "Miller and colleagues (2001) created a Five-Factor Model translation of the PCL-R where each PCL-R item maps onto one or more facets of the Five-Factor Model (e.g., glibness/superficial charm maps onto low self-consciousness ). Researching psychopathy as a variant of normal personality functioning may allow researchers to address the false dichotomy created by a taxometric model of psychopathy (Edens et al., 2006) and understand the comorbidity of psychopathy with other personality disorders (Miller et al., 2001). Given that similar conclusions were reached based on several different measures of SWB and psychopathy, our conclusions were not dependent on the assumptions of a single measure or conceptualization . "
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    • "The second one concerns its scope. There is an ongoing debate whether psychopathy is a taxon—a discrete class—or whether, instead, psychopaths exist on a continuum (Harris, Rice, & Quinsey, 1994; Edens, Marcus, Lilienfeld, & Poythress, 2006). If psychopathy should be understood as existing along a continuum, or even if the traits on which my argument turns—the capacity to understand morality and the capacity for MTT—exist along a continuum in psychopaths, different psychopaths will perform actions with different degrees of moral content, and therefore might be due differing amounts of blame. "
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