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Hare Psychopathy Checklist (PCL)

Authors:
H
Hare Psychopathy Checklist
Kristopher J. Brazil and Adelle E. Forth
Department of Psychology, Carleton University,
Ottawa, ON, Canada
Synonyms
Hare psychopathy checklist;Psychopathy
checklist;PCL
Definition
An assessment rating scale designed for use with
incarcerated male offenders for the assessment of
traits and behaviors underlying the clinical con-
struct of psychopathy.
Introduction
The Hare Psychopathy Checklist (PCL; Hare and
Frazelle 1980) was a preliminary research rating
scale developed by Robert Hare and his col-
leagues for the assessment of the clinical construct
psychopathy in criminal populations. The psy-
chopathy construct measured in the PCL was
largely inuenced by the clinical observations of
Hervey Cleckley regarding the psychopathic per-
sonality and associated antisocial behaviors
(Cleckley 1976). The PCL is the precursor to the
widely used and well-validated assessment scale
called the Psychopathy ChecklistRevised
(PCL-R; Hare 1991,2003). Use of the PCL has
been replaced by the updated and revised PCL-R
for research and clinical purposes. However, the
PCL is still viewed as a scale that contextualizes
the existing PCL-family measures including the
PCL-R, the Psychopathy Checklist: Youth Version
(PCL:YV; Forth et al. 2003), and the Psychopathy
Checklist: Screening Version (PCL:SV; Hart
et al. 1995)and helps trace the construct-related
validity of these PCL-family measures to the clin-
ical construct of psychopathy. Although the PCL
is no longer used, understanding its development
and contribution as the rst systematic effort to
assess psychopathy in pursuing research under-
scores its importance and relevance as a historical
assessment scale. This entry will explore the his-
torical context and rationale behind the develop-
ment of the PCL, how the scale was developed, its
structure, some of the rst studies to use the scale,
and some issues that led to its renement.
Rationale for Developing the PCL
Three observations largely fueled the develop-
ment of the PCL as a research scale to assess
psychopathy (Hare 1980). First and most impor-
tantly, theory and research on psychopathy were
limited since no reliable and valid measure to
assess the construct existed at the time. Clinical
judgment, self-report, and behavioral measures
#Springer International Publishing AG 2016
V. Zeigler-Hill, T.K. Shackelford (eds.), Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences,
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_1079-1
were all being used at the time to assess psychop-
athy, but none of these had any systematic or
consistent way of conrming that they were cap-
turing the same construct (Hare and Cox 1978).
For example, a global rating scale from 0 to 7 was
often used to rate offenders on the clinical con-
struct of psychopathy observed by Cleckley.
Although this scale enjoyed good interrater reli-
ability, the score was a single measure arrived at
using clinical inference across all available infor-
mation about the offender (Hare and Neumann
2005). A central purpose of the PCL then was to
identify the features (i.e., traits and behaviors) that
went in to making the global ratings from the
clinical inference and making a more objective
measure that could assess the presence of those
features. Thus, the PCL was a solution that could
provide a common and more objective measure-
ment accessible to clinical and nonclinical inves-
tigators researching and reporting on
psychopathy.
The second observation that led to the PCLs
development was a concern that clinical decisions
about the assessment and diagnosis of psychopa-
thy were being made based on a very limited time
frame of the individuals life. There was often
little to no consideration for lifetime personality
and behavioral traits exhibited by the offender
when assessing for psychopathy. The PCL instead
would provide a more extensive scoring system
that would consider a longer time period of
assessing how entrenched, chronic, and persistent
some of the traits and behaviors were for a partic-
ular offender being assessed. This was seen as a
solution to both reliability and validity issues
when assessing psychopathy.
The third observation that led to the develop-
ment of the PCL was the recognition that research
assessment scales of psychopathy should also be
explicitly and, thus, meaningfully connected to
the clinical construct of psychopathy (Cleckley
1976). Ensuring that the PCL was truly measuring
the construct that it claimed to measure was nec-
essary to make meaningful claims about the indi-
viduals presenting with the traits and behaviors
underlying that construct. Thus, adhering to this
allows interventions for individuals presenting
with these traits and behaviors to be properly
informed from the research using the PCL.
Development of the Scale
The PCL was developed using construct validity
and statistical analysis. Based on the clinical con-
struct of psychopathy (Cleckley 1976), all of the
traits, behaviors, indicants, and counterindicants of
psychopathy(Hare 1980, p. 114) were recorded,
resulting in a list of over 100 potential features.
Statistical analyses were then conducted using
these features to identify redundancy between
them, whether they could be scored adequately
and reliably, and which ones were effective at
discriminating between offenders rated high or
low on the global clinical scale of psychopathy.
These analyses reduced the list to 22 features that
were identied to best capture psychopathy and
thus formed the structure of the PCL.
The PCL Scale: Structure, Scoring,
and Administration
The PCL consists of 22 items (see Table 1), each
scored on a 3-point ordinal scale (0, 1, or 2).
Information to score the items is obtained from a
semi-structured interview lasting approximately
1 h and reviewing the offenders institutional
le. The PCL was designed for use in criminal
populations and so institutional les were often
readily available. The interview portion was
designed to sample the offenders interpersonal
style (e.g., impression management tactics, atti-
tudes, etc.) and to probe different areas of their
lives including education, occupations, family
life, marital status, present and past offenses,
drug and alcohol use, and health problems.
After reviewing the institutional le and
conducting the interview, the items are scored
either a 0 (denitely not present) or 2 (denitely
present) unless there is not enough information or
inconsistent information is present to score the
item, in which case it is scored a 1. In an effort
to establish consistency between raters, guidelines
of what information from the interview and
2 Hare Psychopathy Checklist
institutional les is relevant when scoring items
was provided (Hare and Frazelle 1980). Total
scores on the PCL are obtained by summing all
of the items, providing a range from 0 to 44, with
higher scores indicating a greater manifestation of
the traits and behaviors underlying the construct
of psychopathy. To increase the reliability of the
PCL, it was encouraged that two raters indepen-
dently rate the offender and then use the average
of the two scores (Hare and Frazelle 1980). This
also promoted early investigations on the
interrater reliability of the PCL.
Using the PCL: Early Validation
and Research
Early validation for the PCL was conducted to
ensure that it was capturing a similar construct as
Cleckleys criteria and the global ratings of
psychopathy. The initial sample consisted of
143 white incarcerated males from a prison in
British Columbia in Canada (Hare 1980). Regres-
sion analysis showed that PCL scores signi-
cantly predicted global ratings of psychopathy,
indicating that the items forming the PCL were
consisting of similar features that clinicians were
using when coming to a decision on the global
rating of psychopathy. Additionally, factor analy-
sis using the PCL and Cleckleys criteria revealed
a good t between the two sets of factors,
suggesting that both the 22-item PCL and
Cleckleys 16 criteria of psychopathy were mea-
suring a similar construct. Early validation analy-
sis, thus, suggested that the PCL was accurately
capturing the same or similar construct of psy-
chopathy that clinicians were assessing with
global rating scales of psychopathy and
Cleckleys criteria, placing condence in the abil-
ity of the PCL as a measure of psychopathy (Hare
1980). Reliability of the scale items and ratings
from this initial study also indicated that it could
be used condently as a reliable measure.
Subsequent research using the PCL began to
shed light on psychopathy. A number of early
studies were crucial for inuencing the psychop-
athy literature for decades to come. The rst study
to link the PCL with other measures of personality
used the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (Hare
1982). This study found that PCL scores were
associated with psychoticism and negatively
with the lie scale. Another study examined the
relation between the PCL and violence (Hare
and McPherson 1984). This study found that
criminals with higher PCL scores were more
likely to commit violent and aggressive criminal
acts than those lower in PCL scores and that lower
IQ was not a reason for this effect. This nding
would propel the PCL into research examining the
risk that offenders with elevated PCL(-R) scores
pose for committing violent criminal acts upon
release from prison (Hare 2003). Another early
and consistent nding was that individuals with
high PCL scores were less likely to learn from
punishment when there was a prospect of receiv-
ing a monetary reward (Newman 1987). These
ndings laid the groundwork for subsequent
research that would corroborate and extend these
Hare Psychopathy Checklist, Table 1 Original 22 PCL
items
Item
1. Glibness/supercial charm
2. Previous diagnosis as psychopath (or similar)
3. Egocentricity/grandiose sense of self-worth
4. Proneness to boredom/low frustration tolerance
5. Pathological lying and deception
6. Conning/lack of sincerity
7. Lack of remorse or guilt
8. Lack of affect and emotional depth
9. Callous/lack of empathy
10. Parasitic lifestyle
11. Short-tempered/poor behavioral controls
12. Promiscuous sexual relations
13. Early behavior problems
14. Lack of realistic, long-term plans
15. Impulsivity
16. Irresponsible behavior as parent
17. Frequent marital relationships
18. Juvenile delinquency
19. Poor probation or parole risk
20. Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
21. Many types of offense
22. Drug or alcohol abuse not direct cause of antisocial
behavior
Source: Hare and Frazelle (1980)
Hare Psychopathy Checklist 3
features and many others into a greater under-
standing of individuals with psychopathic traits.
Beyond the PCL
The PCL initiated the development of a research
scale for the assessment of psychopathy. How-
ever, a number of issues arose from the early
validation study of the scale. The PCL contained
22 items, but two items had relatively low corre-
lations with the overall PCL score (Hare 1980).
These two items were item 2 (Previous diagnosis
as psychopath (or similar)) and item 22 (Drug or
alcohol abuse not direct cause of antisocial behav-
ior). These two items were subsequently removed
when developing the revised scale, resulting in a
total of 20 items (with scores ranging from 0 to
40). Additionally, item 16 (Irresponsible behavior
as parent) was modied to represent irresponsible
behavior across many contexts beyond just
parenting.
Another issue concerned what information
about the individual should be used to score
each item. Thus, more comprehensive and clear
item descriptions were subsequently provided.
Scoring the PCL was also problematic when little
to no information was available for a given item.
In these circumstances, raters would often score
the offender a 1 for that item, which may have
articially inated scores. As a result, the need to
omit items and provide prorated scores was
suggested and implemented in the revised scale.
Lastly, some of the factors from the factor analysis
in the preliminary study did not have underlying
content that could meaningfully be communi-
cated. However, renements of the PCL items,
scoring adjustments, and clearer item descriptions
would later produce the replicable and content-
meaningful four-factor structure found in the
PCL-R, PCL:SV, and PCL:YV (e.g., interper-
sonal, affective, lifestyle, and antisocial factors).
Conclusion
The PCL provided the rst assessment scale
enabling systematic research into the clinical
construct of psychopathy. Previous to its develop-
ment, psychopathy was largely a clinical diagno-
sis, arrived at by interviewing the individual and
using clinical judgment to make the diagnosis.
The PCL provided a rating scale that amalgam-
ated many of the traits and behaviors of psychop-
athy using conceptual and statistical methods to
provide for a more objective and dimensional
assessment of psychopathy in criminal
populations. Amalgamating the features that
form the construct of psychopathy had the benet
of not being unduly inuenced by any particular
salient trait or behavior of the offender (e.g.,
extensive deception, heinous crimes). In this
way, the PCL provided a balanced, reliable, and
accurate way to assess an individual on psycho-
pathic traits for research and clinical purposes.
Cross-References
Psychopathy
Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R)
Psychopathy Checklist: Screening Version
(PCL:SV)
Psychopathy Checklist: Youth Version
(PCL:YV)
References
Cleckley, H. (1976). The mask of sanity (5th ed.). St. Louis:
Mosby.
Forth, A. E., Kosson, D. S., & Hare, R. D. (2003). The
Hare Psychopathy Checklist: Youth Version. Toronto:
Multi-Health Systems.
Hare, R. D. (1980). A research scale for the assessment of
psychopathy in criminal populations. Personality and
Individual Differences, 1,111119.
Hare, R. D. (1982). Psychopathy and the personality
dimensions of psychoticism, extraversion and neuroti-
cism. Personality and Individual Differences, 3, 3542.
Hare, R. D. (1991). The Hare Psychopathy Checklist
Revised. Toronto: Multi-Health Systems.
Hare, R. D. (2003). The Hare Psychopathy Checklist
Revised (2nd ed.). Toronto: Multi-Health Systems.
Hare, R. D., & Cox, D. N. (1978). Clinical and empirical
conceptions of psychopathy and the selection of sub-
jects for research. In R. D. Hare & D. Schalling (Eds.),
Psychopathic behavior: Approaches to research
(pp. 121). Cichester: John Wiley.
4 Hare Psychopathy Checklist
Hare, R. D., & Frazelle, J. L. (1980). Some preliminary
notes on the use of a research scale for the assessment
of psychopathy in criminal populations. Unpublished
manuscript. University of British Columbia, Vancouver.
Hare, R. D., & McPherson, L. M. (1984). Violent and
aggressive behavior by criminal psychopaths. Interna-
tional Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 7, 3550.
Hart, S. D., Cox, D. N., & Hare, R. D. (1995). The Hare
Psychopathy Checklist: Screening Version. Toronto:
Multi-Health Systems.
Hare, R. D., & Neumann, C. S. (2005). The PCL-R assess-
ment of psychopathy: Development, structural proper-
ties, and new directions. In C. J. Patrick (Ed.),
Handbook of psychopathy (pp. 5888). New York,
NY: Guilford Press.
Newman, J. P. (1987). Reaction to punishment in extraverts
and psychopaths: Implications for the impulsive behav-
ior of disinhibited individuals. Journal of Research in
Personality, 21, 464480.
Hare Psychopathy Checklist 5
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The Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ) was administered to 173 male prison inmates for whom reliable assessments of psychopathy were available. Psychopathy was significantly correlated with the Psychoticism (P) scale (r = 0.16) and the Lie scale (r = 0.14), but not with the Extraversion (E) or Neuroticism (N) scales. Zone (octant) analysis indicated that psychopathy was not associated with any particular combination of P, E and N scores. Additional analyses, based on the discriminant function procedure described in the EPQ manual, indicated that inmates with high assessments of psychopathy were significantly less psychiatrically abnormal, in the EPQ sense, than were those with low assessments of psychopathy. A series of comparisons was also made between the P scale and a 22-item psychopathy checklist. The P scale was significantly correlated with six of the items, and with factors 1 (r = 0.30) and 4 (r = 0.19) that emerged from a principal components analysis of the checklist. Factor 1 is related to an impulsive, unstable lifestyle with no long-term commitments and factor 4 to the early appearance of antisocial behavior. It is argued that the P scale reflects the criminal, antisocial aspects of psychopathy and that the results probably have no direct implications for the suggestion that psychopathy and psychoticism are related in some fundamental way. A canonical analysis indicated that some interesting relations may exist between the EPQ variables and the psychopathy factors.
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To explore the factors mediating impulsivity in the syndromes of disinhibition, we investigated the ability of extraverts and psychopaths to use signals for punishment to withhold maladaptive approach behavior under various incentive conditions. The results provide evidence that (a) in comparison to controls, extraverts and psychopaths fail to use cues for punishment to inhibit incorrect approach responses; (b) the deficient response inhibition of disinhibited subjects is specific to approach-avoidance situations; (c) under conditions involving monetary rewards and punishments, disinhibited subjects are less likely to slow down, and may even respond more quickly, following punishment; and (d) the tendency to speed up rather than slow down following punishment is associated with failure to learn from punishment. The results suggest that once focused on obtaining reward, extraverts and psychopaths display an active (disinhibited) as opposed to a passive (reflective) reaction to punishment and frustrative nonreward. This reaction to punishment appears to interfere with learning cues for punishment and may underlie the poor passive avoidance learning and impulsive behavior that characterize the syndromes of disinhibition.
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