Behavioral Sciences & The Law

Published by Wiley
Online ISSN: 1099-0798
Discipline: Psychology
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Aims and scope

Behavioral Sciences & the Law is a peer reviewed journal which provides current and comprehensive information from throughout the world on topics at the interface of the law and the behavioral sciences. The journal balances theoretical, mental health, legal, and research writings to provide a broad perspective on pertinent psycho-legal topics. Most issues are devoted primarily to one special topic, often presented from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. One special issue per year is specifically targeted toward "International Perspectives" on the selected topic. In addition, one issue each year is devoted to miscellaneous research articles, special perspectives, book review/essays, adversarial forums, and articles of special concern to practitioners; such offerings are also published in other issues as space permits. The journal also appeals to clinicians, academics, researchers, and policy makers. Six issues are published per year, and articles are published in English.



Recent publications
The National Registry of Exonerations tracks cases of individuals who have been convicted and exonerated in the United States since 1989. The objective of the current study was to explore the misconduct patterns in violent and sexual offense cases using a novel method with a focus on cases where suspects were falsely accused, either deliberately or by mistaken witness identification. A conjunctive analysis of case configurations (CACC) was conducted using 1690 males convicted of murder/manslaughter, rape/sexual assault, and child sexual abuse. The results showed that compared to Whites, Blacks had a disproportionate amount of official misconduct in both sexual and non‐sexual homicide cases. Blacks also had a disproportionate amount of misconduct by multiple actors and multiple types. Blacks had more cases of mistaken witness identification and a disproportionate amount of official misconduct in sexual assault cases. Implications and recommendations are discussed.
A significant minority of jurisdictions in the United States offer extreme emotional disturbance (EED) as a partial defense to murder. The form of this defense, as established by statute and case law, varies widely among jurisdictions. Empirical research on EED is scant with little guidance to forensic mental health professionals on how to approach and conceptualize potential EED cases. This paper addresses these issues by being the first known published work to (1) set forth a contemporary map of the varying definitions and scope of EED across the United States, (2) translate legal terminology into constructs accessible to forensic evaluators, and (3) provide legal and clinical analyses of sample EED cases to highlight key differences in the form of the defense and the admissibility of evidence between jurisdictions.
Some research suggests that video‐recorded police incidents may be subject to a camera perspective bias. This study examined whether the camera angle of a recorded police use of force encounter influenced interpretation of the video. Participants (n = 330) viewed a video‐recorded simulated use of force scenario in one of four camera angle conditions (body worn camera, bystander camera, security camera, all three camera angles), and then rated the conduct of the police officer and the subject. Participants' attitudes towards the police and legal system were also examined. Results indicated that camera angle did not directly impact viewers' judgment of the scenario, but pre‐existing biases about the police guided their interpretations of certain camera angles. Importantly, however, this was not the case for those who viewed the body worn camera angle. These results help us understand the implications of relying on video recordings of police incidents.
The demand for forensic psychiatric beds is increasing, while many individuals are “stuck” in the system. Index offense severity and other legal considerations are associated with longer forensic stays but factors amenable to change such as symptoms of mental illness and aggression may also influence forensic decisions. We examined forensic review board decisions over time among 89 men admitted to a high‐security forensic hospital. Almost half received a disposition to remain at their first hearing. Overall, dispositions were not associated with violence risk. The odds of a disposition to remain were higher for men with more in‐hospital assaults and higher scores on a measure of clinical factors. Dispositions changed over time and this change was sensitive to clinical factors. We conclude that decisions were consistent with a cascading system of loosening security over time. Further longitudinal research following large samples through the forensic system is recommended.
The current Scottish verdict system includes three verdicts: ‘guilty’, ‘not guilty’ and ‘not proven’. The Scottish Government are currently reviewing the utility of the not proven verdict. Proponents of the not proven verdict suggest that it directs jurors to their true role of determining whether the prosecution’s case has, or has not, been ‘proven’. Reformists suggest a move to a system similar to England and Wales, with only guilty and not guilty verdicts. However, legal professionals have indicated a preference for an alternative system of proven and not proven. The aim of the current study was to test the effects of a proven and not proven system on verdicts given, when compared to alternative verdict systems (specifically, the current Scottish and Anglo-American verdict systems). 227 mock jurors watched a staged murder trial, filmed in a real-life courtroom, with legal professionals questioning witnesses and a judge giving legal direction. Jurors were significantly more likely to convict in a guilty and not guilty verdict system than either a proven and not proven or a guilty, not guilty and not proven verdict system. Future research should replicate this study with a focus on the impact of the not proven verdict in sexual offences.
Mediation pathway: immanent justice reasoning mediates increased support for desert in instances of genetic luck (as compared to social luck). *p ≤ 0.05; **p ≤ 0.01; ***p ≤ 0.001
Mediation pathway: immanent justice reasoning mediates increased support for fairness in instances of genetic luck (as compared to social luck). *p ≤ 0.05; **p ≤ 0.01; ***p ≤ 0.001
Mediation pathway: immanent justice reasoning mediates increased support for retribution as goal of punishment in instances of genetic luck (as compared to social luck). *p ≤ 0.05; **p ≤ 0.01; ***p ≤ 0.001
This research presents three experiments that examine how natural "luck" (social and genetic luck) may affect lay intuitions toward desert-based criminal punishment. Study 1 examined if intuitions surrounding desert-based rewards in relation to good qualities/advantages ascribed to natural luck would extend to desert-based punishments in relation to bad qualities/disadvantages ascribed to natural luck. Study 2 examined how both social and genetic luck affect support for desert-based punishment across different criminal offenses and tests the relevance of immanent justice reasoning to such support. Study 3 examined whether findings in the prior studies are specific to desert-based punishment and immanent justice reasoning, or if natural luck elicits broader punishment judgments and types of justice reasoning. Results showed that known intuitions surrounding desert-based rewards do extend to desert-based punishments in instances of natural luck. Immanent justice reasoning was strongly associated with support for desert-based punishment in instances of both social and genetic luck. However, genetic luck, as compared to social luck, significantly increased support for desert-based punishment, with imminent justice reasoning mediating this increased support. Implications are discussed in relation to capital sentencing and better understanding lay intuitions toward the punishment of criminal offenders who may have qualities ascribed to the "natural lottery."
Diagram of the study procedure
Participants' misinformation endorsement for the narrative. Each dot represents one participant. Means are represented by bars. ** = p < 0.05, ns = p > 0.05
True and false memories for abuse‐related details of the narrative in the honest control group. Scores are given in proportions
True and false memories for abuse‐related details of the narrative in the false denial group. Scores are given in proportions
Victims of abuse might deny their traumatic experiences. We studied mnemonic effects of simulating false denial of a child sexual abuse narrative. Participants (N = 127) read and empathized with the main character of this narrative. Next, half were instructed to falsely deny abuse-related information while others responded honestly in an interview. One week later, participants received misinformation for the narrative and interview. In a final source memory task, participants’ memory for the narrative and interview was tested. Participants who falsely denied abuse-related information endorsed more abuse-unrelated misinformation about the event than honest participants. Abuse-related false memory rates did not statistically differ between the groups, and false denials were not related to omission errors about (1) the interview and (2) narrative. Hence, victim’s memory for abuse-related information related to their experience might not be affected by a false denial, and inconsistencies surrounding the abuse-unrelated information are more likely to take place.
Civilly committed sexually violent persons (SVPs) are a select group of individuals designated as high risk for future sexual violence. Despite risk reduction in older age, SVP programs are seeing aging client populations, with many individuals remaining committed after age 60 (60+). Recent research found a sexual recidivism rate of 7.5% for 60+ individuals released from an SVP civil commitment program. The current paper follows up by examining reasons why individuals remain committed after age 60. It compares SVPs discharged after age 60 to those who are 60+ but remain civilly committed. Results of bivariate analyses reveal older SVPs who remain committed have significantly higher actuarial risk scores and are more likely to be of minority race. Multivariate logistic regression analyses found actuarial risk scores (Static‐99R) predicted continued commitment, after controlling for other relevant variables. Barriers to community reintegration and suggestions for multi‐disciplinary case management for older SVPs are discussed.
Public perceptions regarding a sex offender’s likelihood to reoffend and the efficacy of sex offender policies and practices is often inconsistent with the extant literature in academia. Thus, there is a critical need to better understand what influences those beliefs regarding sex offender policies and practices. We collected data from 284 residents from government defined rural counties and sought to examine: (1) the sources that were most influential in shaping their beliefs regarding sex offender policies and practices; (2) what characteristics the ‘influential sources’ had; and (3) the residents’ emotional response when they think about ‘sex offenders’. The majority of participants were supportive of registration, community notification, and use of the polygraph. Further, the results suggest that ‘academics and peer review articles’ rarely influence beliefs. Rather, ‘personal experiences’ and the emotions ‘rage’ and ‘sadness’ (but not anger or disgust) may be important in influencing rural residents’ beliefs regarding sex offender treatment, castration, execution, and misconceptions regarding juveniles with a sex offense. We conclude by discussing: (1) potential factors that may affect why academics are not perceived as influential sources; and (2) possibilities for how scientists can influence rural residents’ beliefs by utilizing personal experiences and anecdotal information that may spark emotion.
Respondents' perceptions of their interactions with investigators
Likelihood of respondents seeking counselling assistance if offered
Understanding the prevalence of suicidal ideation in Child Sexual Exploitation Material (CSEM) offenders and their psychological concerns provides the basis for early treatment and intervention. This research solicited responses (n = 78) via an anonymous, web-based survey from adults in the United States previously convicted of CSEM offences. Significant suicidal ideation was present in 73% of respondents (n = 57), and 19% (n = 15) reported attempting suicide after they were made aware of an investigation, with 41% (n = 32) stating they would have been likely to seek counselling if provided a contact. Most of the respondents felt they were not treated with fairness, understanding, and compassion by investigators, and that their primary psychological strains were going to jail and their families finding out. This research highlights the need for more empathetic investigative approaches, as well as the need for more rapid assessment and treatment of proximal suicide risk in this population.
Interview and recreational cannabis legalization timeline
Observed values of cannabis use frequency, other substance use, cannabis selling, and DUIs by age are plotted in figures. We conducted random effects Poisson and logistic models by site to understand age trends, and age patterns were generally similar between the two sites. DUIs, driving under the influence
Cannabis use frequency, other substance use frequency, rates of cannabis selling, and rates of DUIs in California and Pennsylvania pre‐legalization versus post‐legalization. Linear age, quadratic age, race/ethnicity, parent education, recall period, and time in facility are included as covariates. DUIs, driving under the influence
The present study assessed whether cannabis use, other types of substance use, and drug‐related offending changed among 1216 justice‐system‐involved youth after recreational cannabis legalization. Using generalized estimating equation population‐averaged models, we compared youth in California, where recreational cannabis is legalized, and Pennsylvania, where recreational use is still prohibited. Results indicated that cannabis use, cannabis selling, and driving under the influences (DUIs) increased more among Pennsylvanian than Californian youth. We found no changes in alcohol or noncannabis drug use after legalization. Cigarette use did not change significantly among Pennsylvanian youth, but Californian youth exhibited decreased cigarette use after legalization. Although not directly tested in the present analysis, it is possible that changes in state‐level recreational cannabis policies throughout the U.S. may contribute to more permissive attitudes toward cannabis, which leads to higher use and use‐related outcomes. Future research should continue to consider the potential impacts of legalization on other types of risky and illegal behavior.
Individuals who carry guns as a requirement of employment frequently experience hazards that can be stress inducing, violent, traumatizing, or cause personal injury. This study used data from the Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiological Surveys (CPES; n = 20,013), to examine mental health diagnoses of individuals that ever worked at a job requiring a firearm. Consistent with existing literature, the findings indicated that those who worked in professions requiring a firearm showed similar risk of mental health diagnoses as law enforcement officers which includes symptoms of trauma, mood disorders, and alcohol use. Further, race/ethnic differences emerged in patterns of mental health diagnoses, suggesting sociocultural differences influence diagnoses. These findings indicate the necessity for further investigation of the understudied area of mental health of those within employment positions that require firearms.
Disparities in victimization by law enforcement for both people of color and individuals with mental health disorders is gaining national attention following the deaths of George Floyd, Sandra Bland, TAmir Rice, and many others. Despite this, the discussion around the intersectionality of race, psychiatric illness, and law enforcement is still in its infancy, the purpose of this article is to discuss the confluence of race and psychiatric illness as vulnerabilities in various contacts with law enforcement in order to further highlight this issue and to ignite further needed research on this topic. Possible solutions such as police‐hiring practices, bias training, and trauma‐informed policing will be discussed.
This article, which serves as a perspective review, delves into the complexities of cannabis use among individuals preparing for or already on conditional release (CR). These complexities include an association between cannabis use and mental illness and dealing with the fact that the use of illicit substances, such as cannabis, is against CR rules, leading to potential revocation. A focus of this article is the deleterious effects cannabis and synthetic derivatives of cannabis can have for individuals on CR. The article concludes with six‐specific recommendations for managing cannabis use in this population with a focus on careful and detailed risk assessments that considers the relationship between substance use and dangerousness, the role of protective factors, the need for a detailed conditional release plan, inpatient and community‐based interventions aimed at increasing individual autonomy, and education on the dangers of cannabis use for both the treatment team and the insanity acquittee.
Requirements of the defense of mental disorder (Section 16 of the Canadian Criminal Code)
The legalization of cannabis raises many queries, one of which regards the criminal liability of users under the influence of cannabis when crimes against the person are committed. This perspective review consequently aims to examine the defense of mental disorder (also referred to as the insanity defense) in Canadian criminal law and revise court decisions involving cases with cannabis use rendered in the field between 1995 and 2021. The purpose was to specify the factors allowing Canadian criminal courts to grant or refuse the defense of mental disorder to help further operationalize the jurisprudential criteria for forensic practice. We noted that presence of a severe and persistent primary psychopathology was the most decisive factor when determining the verdict of the accused who consumed cannabis.
Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta‐Analyses (PRISMA) flowchart of literature search results for BPD
Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta‐Analyses (PRISMA) flowchart of literature search results for ASPD
Individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) or antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) are overrepresented in forensic settings. Yet, despite the burden these disorders place on healthcare and criminal justice systems, there remains a lack of evidence‐based pharmacological treatments. Epidemiological data have shown that comorbid cannabis use disorders are common in BPD and ASPD. ∆9‐Tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary psychoactive constituent of cannabis, is an exogenous cannabinoid that stimulates the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Hence, an investigation of the ECS in these conditions is warranted. This scoping review screened 105 records and summarized the extant research on the ECS in ASPD (n = 69) and BPD (n = 61) participants. Preliminary results suggest that alterations of the ECS may be present in these disorders. Although research examining the ECS in personality disorders is still in its infancy, more research is warranted given initial positive findings.
Prohibitions on cannabis consumption in publicly accessible spaces implemented by Alberta municipalities
Prohibitions on cannabis consumption in publicly accessible spaces implemented by Ontario municipalities
Prohibitions on cannabis consumption in publicly accessible spaces implemented by Québec municipalities
Canada legalized nonmedical cannabis in October 2018, but significant variations in municipal regulations exist. This study explored the variations that exist and pondered their potential public health consequences. A comparative analysis was completed on the regulations and guidelines that addressed retailers' location and public consumption in the municipalities of Alberta, Ontario, and Québec. Municipal regulations that addressed the location of retailers were more numerous and extensive in Alberta and Ontario (in the context of provincial private retail models) than in Québec (government‐based model). Municipalities in Alberta added more restrictions to public consumption laws as compared to municipalities in Ontario and in Québec. These additions were made to Alberta's and Ontario's provincial‐level smoking and vaping bans which used tobacco‐inspired frameworks, and to Québec's ban on smoking and vaping in all public spaces. The comparative analysis showed the importance of considering municipal cannabis regulations when studying the impact of legalization, given the significant variations that exist. Policy makers should be made aware of these variations in the regulation of cannabis in order to limit health harms and further social inequalities.
Substance abuse is an established risk factor for crime and violence, including sexual violence. Nevertheless, the link between cannabis use and sexual offenses remains poorly understood. Cannabis use has a broad effect on sexual functioning and can have both acute and lasting adverse effects on psychological functioning, which in turn can elevate the risk of sexual offending behavior. Yet there is a scarcity of studies that have examined the link between cannabis use and sexual offending. To help fill the gap, this perspective review investigates the link between substance use and crime with a particular emphasis on cannabis use and its effects on sexual and psychological functioning. It then explores how these mechanisms may contribute to sexual offenses and recidivism, with a final discussion on how cannabis use should be conceptualized as a risk factor for sexual violence.
Paid Facebook advertising for recruitment of Canadian participants
Young adults that drive after cannabis use (DACU) may not share all the same characteristics. This study aimed to identify typologies of Canadians who engage in DACU. About 910 cannabis users with a driver's license (17–35 years old) who have engaged in DACU completed an online questionnaire. Two‐step cluster analysis identified four subgroups, based on driving‐related behaviors, cannabis use and related problems, and psychological distress. Complementary comparative analysis among the identified subgroups was performed as external validation. The identified subgroups were: (1) frequent cannabis users who regularly DACU; (2) individuals with generalized deviance with diverse risky road behaviors and high levels of psychological distress; (3) alcohol and drug‐impaired drivers who were also heavy frequent drinkers; and (4) well‐adjusted youths with mild depressive‐anxious symptoms. Individuals who engaged in DACU were not a homogenous group. When required, prevention and treatment need to be tailored according to the different profiles.
of results regarding duty to protect warning
Since the Tarasoff case of 1976, mental health professionals are recognized to have a “duty to protect” third‐party targets from violence‐threatening patients, but little is known about what happens after clinicians warn law enforcement. In 2000, Huber et al. published a study that surveyed Michigan police about “Tarasoff warnings.” We conducted a 20‐year follow‐up study, inviting all Michigan police and sheriff departments to participate. There were no significant differences between studies about knowledge of Tarasoff‐related policies, which was low in both surveys. We found significant decreases in the number of officers who had ever intervened due to warning calls. Of the survey respondents, 83% supported documenting warning calls. For those who received warnings, 96% followed up with at least one intervention. In both studies, notifying other officers was the most common action taken. 56% said they would take action to remove a firearm. We identified opportunities for training law enforcement.
CONSORT flow chart
Law enforcers are stressed, but they may be reluctant to seek psychological support due to the stigmatization of mental illness in the law enforcement culture. Given the relatively stigma‐free lifestyle medicine intervention, a two‐arm pilot randomized controlled trial was conducted in the Hong Kong police force to examine the efficacy of integrated lifestyle medicine practices in enhancing the mental health of law enforcers. A total of 18 participants were randomly assigned to the intervention and waitlist control groups. The intervention group attended a 6‐week lifestyle medicine program consisting of five lifestyle factors. On analyzing the results of the Patient Health Questionnaire using a paired sample t‐test, a statistically significant intervention effect was found. This implies that participants had significantly better general psychological well‐being after the intervention in this pilot study. In conclusion, the present findings provide preliminary support to promote the relatively stigma‐free lifestyle medicine interventions in law enforcement. Nevertheless, further research effort with a larger sample size is warranted to provide empirical support for the efficacy of integrated lifestyle medicine programme.
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is prevalent among individuals involved in the justice system. However, many of the characteristics of justice-involved individuals with FASD remain unknown. We assessed patients in a forensic mental health hospital (n = 26) for FASD before their release. The two objectives were to establish the prevalence of FASD in this unique environment and to describe the mental health and neurocognitive characteristics of individuals with FASD compared to patients with complex needs and those without FASD. The prevalence of FASD was 46%. We found the FASD group to have more than six impaired brain domains, greater than the other groups, and a higher prevalence of ADHD. Given the high prevalence of FASD reported in this study, along with the complexities and adversities associated with FASD and criminal justice involvement, this is a population that requires screening, assessment, and intervention.
Central nervous system damage resulting from prenatal exposure to alcohol, often referred to as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), commonly manifests as lacking cognitive functioning, problem solving, impulsivity, memory, executive functioning, and social skill deficits. For individuals with FASD, these brain-based deficits translate into impulsive behaviors and poorly thought-out decision-making, coupled with an inability to anticipate and recognize the sometimes very severe consequences of their behaviors. Not unexpectedly, individuals with FASD frequently find themselves disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system and mental health services. For some individuals with FASD, these behaviors can also include firesetting. First responders, like other health and legal professionals, are often unable to recognize the behavioral indicators of FASD, primarily due to a lack of training. As a result, firesetting behaviors are often attributed to deliberate, willful acts of delinquency, a desire to damage property, thrill seeking, or as attempts for personal gain, rather than being viewed as maladaptive attempts to solve problems by individuals who lack the tools to do this in more appropriate ways. These same skill deficits also present when individuals with FASD are interviewed about their involvement in such behaviors, sometimes resulting in confabulation, suggestibility, and false confessions. Further education and training in FASD are vital for first responders if they are to better support individuals with FASD and minimize their chances of becoming involved in firesetting behaviors. Furthermore, this training and education will help ensure that first responders can intervene in more appropriately when crisis situations do occur. This article will outline key behavioral symptoms of FASD as well as provide first responders with suggestions as to how to best support individuals when FASD is suspected. The brief quote that follows highlights some of the key challenges facing individuals with FASD and how poor decision-making and impulsiveness can result in severe consequences for the individual and those around them.
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is an increasingly important issue in the New Zealand (NZ) Criminal Justice System (CJS). FASD may impact an offender's ability to participate meaningfully in the trial process, giving rise to the issue of unfitness to stand trial. Capacity to apprehend, comprehend, participate in, make decisions about and communicate within legal process intersect with the complexity and severity of charges. Courts are required to make a nuanced analysis of multiple and complex factors, merging medical and legal expertise into decisions made. We explore the nature of FASD and its implications for criminal justice in NZ. The legal and clinical issues in relation to fitness and FASD will be discussed.
Prenatal alcohol exposure produces a broad range of primary disabilities that lead to adverse life course outcomes in children raised in adverse environments. Inappropriate sexual behaviors are a commonly occurring secondary disability, with a large minority of individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) displaying sexual aggression. Adults with FASD who commit repeated criminal sexual acts may be subject to legal proceedings for indefinite involuntary civil confinement as sexually violent predators/persons (SVP) in certain jurisdictions in the United States. Studies about the diagnostic practices among psychologists and psychiatrists retained by states to evaluate individuals as SVP do not recognize FASD as a mental disorder, despite the likelihood that hundreds of individuals petitioned for involuntary commitment suffer from FASD. Establishing an FASD diagnosis may provide exculpatory evidence to refute a government petition that an individual suffers from a mental condition that affects emotional or volitional capacity by predisposing the person to committing criminal sexual behavior. This article provides a framework for identifying, assessing, and deciding whether individuals with the FASD diagnosis suffer from the legally defined mental disorder that is necessary to indefinitely confine individuals as SVP.
PRISMA diagram showing the flow of systematic search (Page et al., 2021)
Individuals with foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are estimated to be 19 times more likely to encounter the criminal justice system (CJS) in comparison to individuals without FASD. During encounters with the CJS, investigative interviews are employed to obtain accurate information from suspects, victims or witnesses of crime. A systematic search using PRISMA guidelines was performed to identify empirical studies published that have explored the questioning of the FASD population within the CJS and the vulnerabilities of FASD-impacted individuals during investigative interviewing. A total of 383 studies were identified from the databases searched and 7 further studies were identified from Google Scholar. After deduplication, abstract and title screening, the full text of 23 studies were assessed for inclusion and 5 were included in the narrative synthesis of results. Two papers were empirical studies focussed on the performance of FASD-impacted individuals during investigative interviewing. Whilst the first study found the FASD population susceptible to suggestions, the second (a case study), identified the ploys employed during investigative interviewing to obtain a confession. Three papers studied the wider vulnerabilities of FASD-impacted individuals and found diminished psycho-legal abilities, increased risk of recidivism and biological, psychological and social factors that render FASD-impacted individuals vulnerable to CJS encounters. Despite the greater likelihood of CJS encounters, the result of this review highlights the slim evidence base useful to establish the vulnerabilities of FASD-impacted individuals within the CJS.
Participants' profile of neurodevelopmental functioning. Sample size varied across tests, ranging from 9 to 16. BTA, Brief Test of Attention; COWAT, Controlled Oral Word Association Test; C/W, color/word; FTT, Finger‐Tapping Test; GPT, Grooved Pegboard Test; HDT, Hand Dynamometer Test; ILS, Independent Living Scale; IQ, intelligence quotient; LT, long term; PRI, Perceptual Reasoning Index; ST, short term; VCI, Verbal Comprehension Index
Participants' prenatal and postnatal adverse events and exposures (n = 12)
Participants' current trauma‐related symptoms measured with the TSI‐2. TSI‐2, Trauma Symptom Inventory–Second Edition
Participants' criminogenic risk and needs profile measured with the LSI‐R. The total number of items in each subcomponent ranged from 2 to 10. LSI‐R, Level of Service Inventory–Revised
Individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) experience a range of neurodevelopmental challenges, often compounded by social and environmental adversity. One of the most concerning outcomes that can be associated with FASD is involvement in the justice system, where individuals with FASD are vastly over-represented. Individuals with FASD who are both justice-involved and Indigenous experience added layers of marginalization. In this community-based study, we explored the needs of 16 adults who participated in an FASD-informed restorative justice program in an Indigenous community in Alberta, Canada. Clinical record reviews and client interviews were used to gather information. Diverse needs were identified, including pervasive neurodevelopmental difficulties, notable physical and mental health challenges, complex experiences of psychosocial trauma, and varied criminogenic needs. This study increases our understanding of the unique and complex biopsychosocial and criminogenic needs of Indigenous justice-involved adults with FASD. Such an understanding is a first step in developing tailored interventions for individuals with FASD and has important practice and policy implications for supporting positive outcomes. For Indigenous individuals with FASD, intervention efforts should be integrated within the community context to promote collective healing.
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is the largest known cause of intellectual disability (ID), and forensic experts are often called upon to determine if a defendant with FASD qualifies for a diagnosis of ID. Whether such a diagnosis is made may depend upon the diagnosing expert's choice of diagnostic manual: guidelines published by the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (now in its 12th edition [AAIDD‐12]) or the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM‐5). Although both manuals use the same three diagnostic “prongs” (i.e., intellectual deficits, adaptive deficits, and developmental onset), there are substantial differences in the way all three prongs are assessed—differences that increased with the publication of AAIDD‐12. In particular, AAIDD‐12 uses a bureaucratic “disability” model, with narrow emphasis on a small number of quantitative indicators and limited opportunity for clinical integration, while DSM‐5 (and the little‐changed forthcoming DSM‐5‐TR) uses a medical “disorder” model, with flexible reliance on a broad array of indicators and opportunity for clinical integration. The origins and nature of these differences are explored, and an argument is made that compared to the AAIDD formulation, the DSM model provides a more valid basis for forensic diagnosis of ID in individuals with FASD.
Study selection and search results
Foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is highly prevalent in criminal justice settings. Despite increased awareness of the neurocognitive deficits among justice‐involved individuals with FASD, no systematic evaluation of the literature in the field has been conducted to date. We aimed to conduct a systematic review of the literature on the neurocognitive profiles of justice‐involved individuals with FASD, by searching five key electronic databases, dissertations database, and Google scholar, up to January 2021. The findings indicate that when contrasted with comparison groups, justice‐involved individuals with FASD display significant impairment in a greater number of neurocognitive domains including intellectual capacity, executive function, language, academic achievements, motor skills, and adaptive living skills. The relatively small number of the studies included in the review, along with the confounding effects of comorbidities among study participants, precludes drawing firm conclusions about the true extent and implications of neurocognitive deficits in this population. To advance the field further, there is an urgent need to conduct robust studies involving larger samples of justice‐involved individuals with FASD and suitable comparison groups. Advancing knowledge in the field can have important implications for understanding of the antecedents of offending behaviour in this population, and informing strategies for early identification and intervention.
In 2008, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada engaged in a public project of national reconciliation to address the ongoing impacts of settler colonialism including the disproportionate number of Indigenous adults and youth who are held in remand facilities awaiting trial or sentence as well as those who are convicted and sentenced to periods of incarceration. Efforts to further reconciliation by reducing Indigenous incarceration rates have relied largely on the courts and their application of a sentencing principle rooted in the Supreme Court’s ruling in R. v. Gladue [1999] 1 SCR 688. In this article, we argue that the Gladue sentencing principle is being fundamentally undermined in the courts through risk models that actively displace the very context that Gladue reports seek to illuminate. Included in the analysis are the compounding impacts facing Indigenous individuals struggling with a complex disability like Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are neurodevelopmental/neurobehavioral conditions caused by prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE). Impairments caused by PAE contribute to the over‐representation of individuals with FASD in the United States juvenile and adult criminal justice systems. These same impairments can equally impact on individuals with FASD who are witnesses to or victims of crime who also have to navigate the complexities of the criminal justice system. Difficulties include increased susceptibility to confabulation throughout the legal process that, in turn, can contribute to increased rates of poor outcomes including false confessions and wrongful convictions. Individuals with FASD are particularity at risk of confabulation when they are subjected to tactics, such as stressful and anxiety‐provoking situations, threats, and leading, suggestive, or coercive questioning. Many professionals in the forensic context are unfamiliar with FASD or related confabulation risk and may unintentionally utilize tactics that intensify impacts of pre‐existing impairment. This article serves as a beginner’s guide for professionals working in criminal justice settings by (a) providing research‐based overviews of FASD and confabulation, (b) describing how FASD may lead to confabulation, and (c) suggesting ways that professionals can modify protocols when interacting with individuals with FASD. Suggestions in this article hold the potential to decrease the risk of confabulation in the criminal justice system and decrease problematic outcomes, such as false confessions and wrongful convictions among individuals with FASD.
Similarity between DSM‐5 diagnostic criteria for ID and neurodevelopmental disorder associated with prenatal alcohol exposure
There is a biological basis for diminished criminal responsibility in offenders with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) just as there is in those with intellectual disability. Functional limitations affecting cognition in both neurodevelopmental conditions stem directly from structural brain damage at a gross and molecular level, which usually impairs executive functioning among other cognitive skills. Executive functioning, which includes reasoning and impulse control, is the only neural system in the brain that involves conscious thought. With respect to the law, impaired reasoning or rationality is an aspect of mens rea (“guilty mind”). When rationality is impaired by prenatal alcohol exposure, acts driven by strong emotion and urges can occur, which has obvious implications regarding criminal responsibility. The Atkins decision by the U.S. Supreme Court reflects the rationale that organically based brain dysfunction in executive skills reduces criminal culpability. We argue that people with FASD who have similar brain dysfunction likewise have reduced criminal responsibility.
More than 53 million people come in contact with police each year, with people of color and those with mental illness (MI) being subjected to increased rates of contact. Sometimes police and civilian interactions have fatal outcomes, and these populations are disproportionately affected. As a result, families of these victims sometimes seek monetary compensation through civil litigation. The current study sought to understand how victim race and mental illness might impact civil juror decision‐making in deadly police use of force cases. Participants (N = 177) were exposed to trial evidence and were assessed on a number of dimensions. Results display a strong influence of mock jurors' attitudes toward police legitimacy on compensatory damages, as well as interaction effects between attitudes toward police legitimacy and victim race on punitive damage awards and opinions on what professional consequences the involved police officer should face. Implications and future directions are discussed.
The need for specialized training programs that are focused on youth mental health needs, awareness of community‐based services, and de‐escalation skills is growing across law enforcement agencies due to calls for service that involve youth in mental health crisis. The current study evaluates a juvenile mental health training for law enforcement that was developed based on agency needs. The training was completed by 159 officers and a pre‐/post‐test design was used. Findings suggest that officers were satisfied with the training and improvements were seen across several training constructs (confidence, preparedness, stigma, resource awareness, and de‐escalation skills). Satisfaction with the training predicted change in confidence and preparedness. Recommendations for future research and the implementation of juvenile mental health trainings are discussed.
Hypothesized model. Note. This model regressed the control variables, age, and average hours worked, on physical symptoms and psychological distress, the relationships among which were not significant
Alternate model. This model regressed both perfectionisms on the control variables, age, and average hours worked per week. Age had negative relations and average hours worked per week had positive relations with self‐oriented (r = −0.25, p < 0.01; r = 0.18, p < 0.05) and socially prescribed (r = −0.17, p < 0.05; r = 0.20, p < 0.01) perfectionism
Existing evidence suggests that perfectionism is related to depressive symptoms, burnout, and clinical disorders and that socially prescribed, rather than self‐oriented, perfectionism is the most maladaptive. Thus, social expectations of perfection can have detrimental effects on workers that may result in negative organizational outcomes. Using a sample of 176 Arizona attorneys, this two‐wave longitudinal study examined whether psychosocial safety climate (PSC) may reduce perfectionist ideals and, in turn, improve employee well‐being. Expectedly, PSC negatively influenced physical and psychological distress 2 months later directly and indirectly via socially prescribed perfectionism, suggesting that the beneficial impacts of positive PSCs may manifest over a relatively short period of time. Contrarily, self‐oriented perfectionism was not related to PSC, suggesting a demand‐resource mismatch, and positively related to physical symptoms only. These results suggest a more complex relationship between self‐oriented perfectionism and employee well‐being, perhaps depending on other variables.
Brain regions associated with moral cognition showing aberrant activity in psychopaths. Significant clusters where the activation likelihood estimation analysis revealed convergence of altered brain activity in corresponding experiments (p < 0.05, threshold‐free cluster enhancement corrected; cf. Table 1). Orange/blue color indicates in‐/decreased activity [Colourfigure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
Research into the neurofunctional mechanisms of psychopathy has gathered momentum over the last years. Previous neuroimaging studies have identified general changes in brain activity of psychopaths. In an exploratory meta-analysis, we here investigated the neural correlates of impaired moral cognition in psychopaths. Our analyses replicated general effects in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, lateral prefrontal cortex, fronto-insular cortex, and amygdala, which have been reported recently. In addition, we found aberrant brain activity in the midbrain and inferior parietal cortex. Our preliminary findings suggest that alterations in both regions may represent more specific functional brain changes related to (altered) moral cognition in psychopaths. Furthermore, future studies including a more comprehensive corpus of neuroimaging studies on moral cognition in psychopaths should re-examine this notion.
Average‐free will beliefs by condition. Error bars represent 95% confidence intervals (CIs) [Colourfigure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
Increase in exposure to trauma informed psychoeducation led to a decrease in free will beliefs; in turn, this led to decreased perceived culpability
Increase in exposure to trauma informed psychoeducation led to a decrease in perceived culpability; in turn, this led to decreased retributive beliefs
Increase in exposure to trauma informed psychoeducation led to a decrease in perceived culpability; in turn, this led to decreased severity of punishment
Increase in exposure to trauma informed psychoeducation led to a decrease in perceived culpability; in turn, this led to decreased consequentialist beliefs
Justifications for punishment are generally grounded in retribution or consequentialism. Retribution is rooted in and legitimized by common sense notions of free will, claiming that offenders freely and rationally choose to commit a criminal act, and are therefore deserving of punishment. Consequentialism does not necessitate a reliance on a belief in free will, and views punishment as means to a valuable end. In recent years, neuroscientific research has challenged the notion of free will, providing one pathway for a public shift away from retribution and towards consequentialism. To date, no studies have examined whether educating participants about biopsychosocial effects of trauma that are often outside of conscious awareness may contribute to free will doubt. This study used a 2 (biopsychosocial information, neutral information) × 2 (juvenile offender, adult offender) between subjects design and measured beliefs in free will, judgments of culpability, and justifications for punishment. Results showed a main effect of trauma informed psychoeducation on free will beliefs, such that individuals who watched a trauma video had lower free will beliefs compared to individuals who watched a control video. Direct effects of trauma informed psychoeducation on sentence severity and on justifications for punishment were nonsignificant. However, mediation analyses revealed that free will beliefs had an indirect effect on the relations between trauma informed psychoeducation and perceived culpability and that perceived culpability had an indirect effect on the relations between trauma informed psychoeducation and retribution, consequentialism, and punishment severity.
The present investigation was designed to systematically examine the insanity defense typology proposed by Brown (2018) using a large sample of cases wherein there was support for the insanity defense. A total of 187 court‐ordered cases in which an insanity defense was supported were categorized based on the typology. The sample comprised of mostly single, middle‐aged males who had been charged with a felony and diagnosed with a psychotic disorder. About half the sample was ultimately adjudicated not guilty by reason of insanity by the court. About two‐thirds of the cases were categorized into one of the seven insanity defense subtypes using a coding scheme developed by the author of the typology. Inter‐rater agreement occurred 82% of the time. The most frequent subtype was Paranoid Self‐Defense, followed by “But It's Mine” and Paranoid Protection of Others. There were few differences among these subtypes based on demographic, clinical, offense, and outcome variables, except for presence of a primary psychotic disorder and offense type. Implications and ideas for future research are discussed.
Electroencephalographic and morphometric abnormalities in psychopath offenders
The main goals of the present study were to replicate and extend current knowledge related to paralimbic dysfunctions associated with psychopathy. The research evaluated the quantitative electroencephalography, current density (CD) source and synchronization likelihood analysis during the rest condition and structural magnetic resonance imaging images to compare volumetric and cortical thickness, in inmates recruited from two prisons located in Havana City. The Psychopathy Checklist‐Revised (PCL‐R) was used as a quantitative measure of psychopathy. This study showed most beta energy and less alpha activity in male psychopath offenders. Low‐resolution electromagnetic tomography signified an increase of beta activity in psychopath offender groups within paralimbic regions. The superior temporal gyrus volume was associated with the F1 factor while the fusiform, anterior cingulate and associative occipital areas were primarily associated with the F2 factor of PCL‐R scale. Cortical thickness in the left dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and the temporal pole was negatively associated with PCL‐R total score.
To further understand psychopathy within a Developmental and Life-Course Criminology perspective, the current article investigates the stability and change in psychopathy from childhood to middle age. The Cambridge Study in delinquent development is a prospective longitudinal study of 411 males, where psychopathy was coded based on contemporanously collected data from young people and in adulthood. Psychopathy in middle age was assessed in a medical interview. The findings indicate a high degree of stability of psychopathy across the life-course. To explain stability and change, childhood factors that might predict this were investigated. Few factors were related to stability and change across the life-course. Poor supervision, poor housing, a large family, and having a convicted father were associated with any change. A depressed mother was associated with a later decrease in psychopathy. This investigation has implications not only for the downward extension of psychopathy to childhood, but also for the understanding of the development of criminal and antisocial behavior.
Flowchart (PRISMA diagram; adapted from Moher et al. [2009]) of systematic literature review on Psychopaths and their feelings of fear and anxiety. Databases screened were EBSCOhost (PsycArticles, PsycINFO, PSYNDEX literature with PSYNDEX Tests, Behavioral Sciences Collection, Sociology Source Ultimate) and Web of Science (SSCI)
Psychopathic traits have been linked to anomalies in experiencing fear and anxiety. It remains unclear, however, to what extent fear and anxiety levels are useful parameters to effectively distinguish between subtypes of psychopathy. Therefore, we aimed to elucidate whether different psychopathic phenotypes (primary and secondary psychopathy) can be delineated based on fear/anxiety levels. To investigate associations between psychopathic traits and conscious experiences of fear and/or anxiety a systematic qualitative review of studies was conducted following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. Seventeen studies were included in the review. We found some evidence for attenuated fear/anxiety levels in primary psychopathy. In secondary psychopathy, the experience of fear/anxiety seemed rather intact. Moreover, primary psychopathy might be associated with a more positive appraisal of the conscious feeling of fear. We reason that consciously experienced fear and anxiety are distinctly related to primary and secondary psychopathy. Due to a lack of consistent and comprehensive operationalizations of fear and anxiety, however, conclusions about their potential to differentiate psychopathic subtypes should be drawn with caution.
The relationship between egocentric selfishness and GM traits was mediated by: (a) Lack of involvement. (b) Poor monitoring. (c) Inconsistent discipline. *p < 0.05. **p < 0.01. ***p < 0.001
Mediation models of the relationship between adaptive selfishness and CU traits. (a) Inconsistent discipline as the mediator. (b) Lack of involvement as the mediator. *p < 0.05. **p < 0.01. ***p < 0.001
Mediation models of the relationship between egocentric selfishness and CU traits. (a) Lack of involvement as the mediator, total CU traits as the outcome. (b) Poor monitoring as the mediator, callousness traits as the outcome. *p < 0.05. **p < 0.01. ***p < 0.001
Parental personality and parenting behavior have been associated with the development of psychopathic traits in offspring. However, no study has examined the effect of parental dispositional selfishness on the development of psychopathic traits in offspring, and the potential mechanism underlying this relationship. To address this issue, parents' reports on their dispositional selfishness, negative and positive parenting behavior, and child's psychopathic traits were collected for a group of children from the community (n = 118, 47% male, mean age = 14.1 years). Results showed that parental selfishness was associated with grandiose‐manipulative (GM), daring‐impulsive (DI), and callous‐unemotional (CU) traits in children. In addition, the egocentric selfishness‐GM relationship was indirectly mediated by parenting behavior including lack of involvement, poor monitoring, and inconsistent discipline, whereas the association with CU traits was directly mediated by lack of involvement. These effects remained significant after controlling for child's sex, age, race, social adversity, and a prior measure of psychopathic traits. Findings provide initial empirical evidence on the effect of parental selfishness on a child's psychopathic traits, and further support to the proposition that distinct etiology may underlie different dimensions of psychopathic traits.
Trial structure with experimental conditions. In the spontaneous and the deliberate condition additional emotion feedback was demanded. While the emotion was peripheral to the participants' focus in the spontaneous condition by asking what gender the victims might have been, the deliberate condition demanded the focus on the emotion of the potential victim
Path models 1 and 5 with Psychopathy Checklist‐Revised (PCL‐R) facets predicting judgments (upper model) and choices (lower model) in separate conditions. +Significant predictors are illustrated as black arrows, gray arrows for dependent variables indicate predictions at trend level. Age and IQ are included as covariates. CFI, Comparative Fit Index; RMSEA, Root Mean Square Error of Approximation; SRMR, Standardized Root Mean Square Residual
Path model 3 with Psychopathy Checklist‐Revised (PCL‐R) facets predicting moral judgment difference scores. Significant predictors are illustrated as black arrows, gray arrows for dependent variables indicate predictions at trend level. Age and IQ are included as covariates. CFI, Comparative Fit Index; RMSEA, Root Mean Square Error of Approximation; SRMR, Standardized Root Mean Square Residual
Path model 10 with Psychopathy Checklist‐Revised (PCL‐R) facets predicting valence ratings in separate conditions. Significant predictors are illustrated as black arrows, gray arrows for dependent variables indicate predictions at trend level. Age and IQ are included as covariates. CFI, Comparative Fit Index; RMSEA, Root Mean Square Error of Approximation; SRMR, Standardized Root Mean Square Residual
Path model 14 with Psychopathy Checklist‐Revised (PCL‐R) facets predicting arousal ratings in separate conditions. Significant predictors are illustrated as black arrows, gray arrows for dependent variables indicate predictions at trend level. Age and IQ are included as covariates. CFI, Comparative Fit Index; RMSEA, Root Mean Square Error of Approximation; SRMR, Standardized Root Mean Square Residual
Recent research has documented a small but significant correlation between psychopathic capacities and utilitarian moral judgment, although the findings are generally inconsistent and unclear. We propose that one way to make sense of mixed findings is to consider variation in perspective-taking capacities of psychopathic individuals. With this in mind, we had criminal offenders (n = 60), who varied in their psychopathy levels according to the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R), respond to common sacrificial moral dilemmas (e.g., trolley dilemmas) under different conditions. In a baseline condition, participants simply responded to the sacrificial moral dilemmas as is typically done in previous research. In an "emotion-salient" condition, participants had to reason about the emotions of another person after solving moral dilemmas (deliberative processing). In the "emotion-ambiguous" condition, participants saw images of people in distress, after solving moral dilemmas, but did not have to explicitly reason about such emotions (sponta-neous processing). The four PCL-R facets predicted distinct interference effects depending on spontaneous versus de-liberative processing of hypothetical victim's emotions. The findings suggest that the use of a multi-faceted approach to account for cognitive and moral correlates of psychopathy.
The Psychology of Criminal Conduct and its associated components (e.g. the Risk Need Responsivity model, the Central Eight risk factors) has been hugely influential in the criminal justice sector. However, like any theory it has relative strengths and weakness, one weakness being that assumptions have been made about the causal nature and conceptual coherence of its foundational constructs, dynamic risk factors. The numerous issues with the conceptualisation of dynamic risk factors have implications for the widespread practice of using them as explanations of offending and to inform intervention planning. Recently some attention has been given to exploring the conceptualisation and definitions, scope and use of dynamic risk factors. Some key advancements in this area are considered and we illustrate how the weaknesses encountered by dynamic risk factors may impact our understanding and application of these concepts, using the example of Antisocial Personality Pattern.
The validity of self-report psychopathy assessment has been questioned, especially in forensic settings where clinical evaluations influence critical decision-making (e.g., institutional placement, parole eligibility). Informant-based assessment offers a potentially valuable supplement to self-report but is challenging to acquire in under-resourced forensic contexts. The current study evaluated, within an incarcerated sample (n = 322), the extent to which brief prototype-based informant ratings of psychopathic traits as described by the triarchic model (boldness, meanness, disinhibition; Patrick et al., 2009) converge with self-report trait scores and show incremental validity in predicting criterion measures. Self/informant convergence was robust for traits of boldness and disinhibition, but weaker for meanness. Informant-rated traits showed incremental predictive validity over self-report traits, both within and across assessment domains. These findings indicate that simple prototype-based informant ratings of the triarchic traits can provide a useful supplement to self-report in assessing psychopathy within forensic-clinical settings.
Machiavellianism is a personality construct characterized by cynicism, callousness, and skillful manipulation of others to achieve personal gains. We review the Machiavellianism literature with a particular focus on its measurement alongside narcissism and psychopathy in the so-called "Dark Triad" (DT). We discuss criticisms of Machiavellianism on the grounds of insufficient construct validity as well as its virtual indistinguishability from psychopathy when assessed by commonly used instruments. As a response to these criticisms, we offer the super-short form of the Five Factor Machiavellianism Inventory (FFMI-SSF) as an alternative. The goal of the present study was to evaluate the FFMI-SSF in relation to psychopathy and basic personality traits (i.e., the Five Factor Model) and to compare it to widely used measures of the DT and psychopathy in a large undergraduate sample (n = 1004).
Estimated marginal means plot of Iowa Gambling Task Deck A and B. The antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) group selected a significantly higher number of cards from the disadvantageous decks compared to the healthy control group (multivariate analysis of variance [MANOVA]; effect of diagnosis: F1,27 = 7.417, p = 0.011, η² = 0.215). Interaction analysis showed that the 9/9 genotype was associated with more disadvantageous choices in ASPD; however, in the healthy control group, the 9/9 genotype was associated with more advantageous choices (MANOVA; effect of diagnosis and gene: F2,27 = 3.591, p = 0.031, η² = 0.227)
Estimated marginal means plots of (a) net total, (b) Net 5, and (c) Average Net 4 and 5 scores of the Iowa Gambling Task. The antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) group scored significantly lower on Net Total compared to the healthy control group (multivariate analysis of variance [MANOVA]; effect of diagnosis: F1,27 = 7.699, p = .010, η² = 0.222). The 9/9 genotype in ASPD was associated with more disadvantageous choices, whereas the 9/9 genotype in the healthy control group was associated with more advantageous choices across Net 5 (MANOVA; effect of diagnosis and gene: F2,27 = 4.305, p = .024, η² = 0.242), Average Net 4 and 5 (MANOVA; effect of diagnosis and gene: F2,27 = 3.842, p = .034, η² = 0.222), and Net total (MANOVA; effect of diagnosis and gene: F2,27 = 5.225, p = .012, η² = 0.279) [Colour figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
Estimated marginal means plots of (a) net total, (b) Net 5, and (c) Average Net 4 and 5 scores of the Iowa Gambling Task. The antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) group scored significantly lower on Net Total compared to the healthy control group (multivariate analysis of variance [MANOVA]; effect of diagnosis: F1,27 = 7.699, p = .010, η² = 0.222). The 9/9 genotype in ASPD was associated with more disadvantageous choices, whereas the 9/9 genotype in the healthy control group was associated with more advantageous choices across Net 5 (MANOVA; effect of diagnosis and gene: F2,27 = 4.305, p = .024, η² = 0.242), Average Net 4 and 5 (MANOVA; effect of diagnosis and gene: F2,27 = 3.842, p = .034, η² = 0.222), and Net total (MANOVA; effect of diagnosis and gene: F2,27 = 5.225, p = .012, η² = 0.279) [Colour figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
Studies suggest that abnormalities of the dopaminergic system underlie decision-making deficits, a hallmark of antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) and psychopathy. The dopamine transporter gene (DAT1) is of particular interest due to a polymorphism that controls dopamine transporter (DAT) activity. However, the association between DAT1 genotypes and decision-making in ASPD has never been studied. The current study investigated the effect of DAT1 genotype on decision-making, as measured by the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), in ASPD and healthy controls. A total of 17 participants with ASPD and 16 healthy control participants without ASPD were sampled. The Hare Psychopathy Check- list-Revised and the IGT were administered to all participants. All participants provided blood samples for genotyping. Data revealed a novel interaction effect between DAT1 genotype and diagnosis, whereby ASPD participants with low DAT activity genotypes performed significantly worse on the IGT and selected from disadvantageous decks more often, whereas the low DAT activity genotype in the healthy control group was associated with better performance on the IGT, and they selected from disadvantageous decks less often. We demonstrate, for the first time, that low DAT activity genotypes in ASPD with high psychopathic traits contribute to poor decision-making.
The Italian mafia organizations represent a subculture with values, beliefs, and goals that are antithetical to and undermining of the predominant society. The conduct of individual members includes such extreme violence for material gain, it may at least superficially suggest a severe personality disorder. Since the first edition of the DSM and into the 21st century, various terms have been used, sometimes interchangeably, but over time inconsistently, to designate the mentality and practices of mafia members. Only recently has the psychology of mafia members become a focus of serious scientific study. For the first time, investigators for the present study applied instruments, including the PCL‐R, to examine for character psychopathology and specifically degrees of psychopathy in male and female mafia members, 20 female and 21 male members. Results showed some gender difference with the women having a higher score on Factor 1, in contrast to men who showed a lower score. Psychopathy and personality disorder were not found to be associated with membership in the mafia for either gender. Some psychopathic traits and gender differences warrant further research. Meanwhile these findings are consistent with a mentality characterized by beliefs and practices determined by a deviant culture rather than psychopathology.
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35 days
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$3,000 / £2,000 / €2,500
2.568 (2021)
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3.1 (2021)
Top-cited authors
John Reid Meloy
  • University of California, San Diego
Robert Hare
  • University of British Columbia - Vancouver
James R. P. Ogloff
  • Swinburne University of Technology
John F Edens
  • Texas A&M University
Craig S Neumann
  • University of North Texas