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Understanding Bias in Diagnosing, Assessing, and Treating Female Offenders

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Abstract

Long before psychology, bias has existed in science. From the beginning, concerns have been raised about the reliability, validity, and accuracy of social science research (Meehl, 1954). In this chapter, we define and discuss the origins of bias and how it can erode the scientific method. We focus specifically on bias in psychological research, theory, assessment, and treatment. We discuss the range of common misconceptions and misinformation that permeates the female offender literature. Finally, we conclude with ten myths about female offenders and offer guidelines for identifying bias and how to avoid it.

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... In mixed forensic samples of males and females, PCL-R total scores correlated with ANT and AGG scale scores (Blonigen et al., 2010;Poythress et al., 2010). Higher total PCL-R scores in females correlated with elevated ANT, AGG, and DOM (dominance; self-assured, 1 Rater biases may play a role in the assessment of women including using the PCL-R (e.g., gender bias, affective heuristic, availability heuristics, etc., see Cunliffe et al. (2021) for a full discussion on biases present for assessing women; also see Grann, 2000;Verona & Vitale, 2018). Specifically, if the representative heuristic is present, the rater of the PCL-R has the prototypic male psychopath as their frame of reference, which will result in missing information pertinent to women. ...
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Chapter
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A meta-analysis was conducted to examine the extent of continued influence of misinformation in the face of correction and the theoretical explanations of this phenomenon. Aggregation of results from 32 studies (N = 6,527) revealed that, on average, correction does not entirely eliminate the effect of misinformation (r = –.05, p = .045). Corrective messages were found to be more successful when they are coherent, consistent with the audience’s worldview, and delivered by the source of the misinformation itself. Corrections are less effective if the misinformation was attributed to a credible source, the misinformation has been repeated multiple times prior to correction, or when there was a time lag between the delivery of the misinformation and the correction. These findings are consistent with predictions based on theories of mental models and offer concrete recommendations for practitioners.
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This study examined the interdiagnostician reliability and potential gender bias of the DSM-IV/DSM-5 Section II and DSM-5 Alternative Model definitions of borderline personality disorder. A national sample of 123 mental health professionals provided diagnostic judgments on 12 case vignettes selected to represent a range of personality pathology. Two versions of each case were included, one identified as male and the other as female, but which were otherwise identical. Analyses examined the intraclass correlation between clinicians and also examined rates of diagnostic assignments as a function of case gender. Reliability of diagnosis of borderline personality did not differ across the two diagnostic approaches, and concordance of diagnoses across the two systems was significant. The dimensional components of the DSM-5 Alternative Model demonstrated significantly more diagnostic reliability than the DSM-IV categorical diagnoses. The DSM-5 Alternative Model conceptualization of borderline personality can be diagnosed with comparable or greater reliability than the extant DSM-IV definition.
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In this study, we examine recidivism in a cohort of 471 registered, adult female sexual offenders for an average follow-up of 18.83 years. About half (52%) of the female sexual offenders were re-arrested for a subsequent offense during the follow-up period. Nine percent were re-arrested for a violent offense, and 7 % were re-arrested for a sexual offense. Recidivists for any offense, compared to non-recidivists, were younger, had more extensive criminal histories, and were more likely to have a sexual assault as an index offense. Recidivists for violent (non-sexual) offenses, compared to non-recidivists, were younger, had more extensive criminal histories, and were more likely to have a male victim for an index offense. Recidivists for sexual offenses, compared to non-recidivists, had more prior arrests for any offense, more prior arrests for alcohol/drug offenses, and were more likely to have an acquaintance victim for an index offense. These results are compared to prior studies.
Article
Due to the smaller proportion of female sex offenders (2%-12% of all sexual offenses) compared with male sex offenders, we know much less about these women to aid in the assessment, treatment, and prevention of their offending behavior compared with men. One promising distinction in female sex offender typology is solo-offending females versus females who offend with a male co-offender. The current study uses a sample of 225 incarcerated female sex offenders to compare solo and co-offending women on variables of psychopathology, criminal history, victim and offender information, and recidivism rates. Results indicate that solo offenders are more likely to have male, unrelated victims, score higher on dominance and aggression, and are more likely to generally recidivate. Solo versus co-offending status was not a significant predictor for sexual recidivism. Implications for assessment and treatment are discussed.
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Despite growing interest in psychopathic personality features in juvenile offenders, few studies have examined the relationship between childhood trauma and psychopathy. The present study utilized two datasets: 253 adolescents in a residential facility for juvenile offenders in Pennsylvania and 723 institutionalized delinquents in Missouri. Zero-order correlations and linear regression techniques were employed for boys and girls to examine the relationships between trauma, assessed using the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument Version 2 (MAYSI-2) Traumatic Experiences Scale and the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ), and psychopathy as measured by the Youth Psychopathic Traits Inventory (YPI) and the Psychopathic Personality Inventory–Short Form (PPI-SF). Results indicate that psychopathy is significantly correlated with childhood trauma. For the Missouri data, trauma significantly predicted psychopathy scores for both boys and girls. These results suggest that nuanced understanding of traumatic history of these adolescents may not only be a pathway to psychopathy but also a critical part of their overall assessment and treatment plan.
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The first results from the Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology suggest that there is scope for improving reproducibility in pre-clinical cancer research.
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Controversial conclusions from meta-analyses in nutrition are of tremendous interest to the public and can influence policies on diet and health. When the results of meta-analyses are the product of faulty methods, they can be misleading and can also be exploited by economic interests seeking to counteract unflattering scientific findings about commercial products.
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We respond to Tibon Czopp and Zeligman's (2016) critique of our systematic reviews and meta-analyses of 65 Rorschach Comprehensive System (CS) variables published in Psychological Bulletin (2013). The authors endorsed our supportive findings but critiqued the same methodology when used for the 13 unsupported variables. Unfortunately, their commentary was based on significant misunderstandings of our meta-analytic method and results, such as thinking we used introspectively assessed criteria in classifying levels of support and reporting only a subset of our externally assessed criteria. We systematically address their arguments that our construct label and criterion variable choices were inaccurate and, therefore, meta-analytic validity for these 13 CS variables was artificially low. For example, the authors created new construct labels for these variables that they called "the customary CS interpretation," but did not describe their methodology nor provide evidence that their labels would result in better validity than ours. They cite studies they believe we should have included; we explain how these studies did not fit our inclusion criteria and that including them would have actually reduced the relevant CS variables' meta-analytic validity. Ultimately, criticisms alone cannot change meta-analytic support from negative to positive; Tibon Czopp and Zeligman would need to conduct their own construct validity meta-analyses.
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This article utilizes seven cases to describe the behavior of the sociopathic personality in a leadership role. The arenas in which this article focuses include the industrial world, the academic world, and the non-profit organization world. In- depth analysis of several of the cases presented should provide the reader with a better awareness of the sociopathic mind and its propensity for destruction of others, as well as the major focus of this behavior disorder - the need to win, and to win at all costs. Suggestions for dealing with such individuals is presented to further assist the reader in becoming more aware of their methods, behavior, and self-centered focus, as well as how to deal with them.
Article
Since the publication of the Rorschach Inkblot Method (Rorschach, 1921/1942 ), theorists, researchers, and practitioners have been debating the nature of the task, its conceptual foundation, and most important its psychometric properties. The validity of the Rorschach Comprehensive System (CS; Exner, 1974 , 2003; Exner & Weiner, 1995 ) has been supported by several meta-analyses that used different types of nontest external criterion for validating individual variables. In a recent meta-analysis, Mihura, Meyer, Dumitrascu, and Bombel ( 2013 ) found coefficients ranging from modest to excellent for most of the selected CS variables, with 13 of them reported as showing "little to no support." This article focuses on these variables. Although endorsing Mihura et al.'s mainly validating findings, we also suggest that the evidence presented for the little or no validity of these 13 variables is not quite compelling enough to warrant changing their definition or coding, or removing them from the system. We point to some issues concerning the description and interpretation of these variables and the appropriateness of the external criteria used for exploring their validity, and suggest considering these issues in further CS research. Implications of Mihura et al.'s meta-analysis for clinical and forensic practice are discussed.
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According to the scientific literature, childrens' cognitive development is not complete until adolescence. Therefore, the problems inherent in children serving as witnesses are crucial. In preschool-aged children, false memories may be identified because of misinformation and insight bias. Additionally, they are susceptible of suggestions. The aim of this study was to verify the levels of suggestibility in children between three and 5 years of age. Ninety-two children were examined (44 male, 48 female; M = 4.5 years, SD = 9.62). We used the correlation coefficient (Pearson's r) and the averages variance by SPSS statistical program. The results concluded that: younger children are almost always more susceptible to suggestibility. The dimension of immediate recall was negatively correlates with that of total suggestibility (r = -0.357 p < 0.001). Social compliance and source monitoring errors contribute to patterns of suggestibility, because older children shift their answers more often (r = 0.394 p < 0.001). Younger children change their answers more times (r = -0.395 p < 0.001).
Article
Psychopathy has gained increasing importance in the field of risk assessment in the last decade, in large part because of the established association between this construct and future violence and criminality. Situations in which the prediction of "future dangerousness" is at issue appear to be logical areas in which the assessment of psychopathic traits would be relevant to decision-making. One recent application of psychopathy has been its inclusion in death penalty cases, wherein Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) scores have been introduced to support the position that a defendant will represent a "continuing threat" to society - even if serving a life sentence in prison. Despite such claims, a review of the relevant research indicates that the empirical basis for these conclusions is minimal at present. This article summarizes what is known about the relationship between psychopathy and violence, and reviews the legal and professional implications of this research in relation to the use of the PCL-R in the penalty phase of capital cases.
Article
Two recent meta-analyses have suggested that boldness, as assessed by the Psychopathic Personality Inventory (PPI) Fearless Dominance dimension, is largely unrelated to total or factor scores on the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R), raising questions concerning the relevance of largely adaptive features to psychopathy. Nevertheless, given that the PCL was developed and validated among prisoners, it may place less emphasis than do other psychopathy measures on adaptive traits, such as fearlessness, social poise, and emotional resilience. We conducted a meta-analysis (N = 10,693) of the relations between (a) boldness, as assessed by the PPI and its derivatives or measures of the triarchic model of psychopathy, and (b) non-PCL-based psychopathy measures across 32 samples. The average weighted correlation between boldness and psychopathy was medium to large (r = .39) and considerably higher than reported in prior meta-analyses; when analyses were restricted to well-validated psychopathy measures, the correlation rose to r = .44. We did not find support for the position that boldness is significantly less related to psychopathy than are the other 2 dimensions of the triarchic model. Our findings strongly suggest that boldness is relevant to at least some well-validated measures of psychopathy, and raise further questions regarding the boundaries of this condition. (PsycINFO Database Record