Criminal Justice Correlates of Psychopathy

Psychopathy is typically defined as a personality disorder comprising traits associated with interpersonal, affective, and behavioral dysfunction, including superficial charm, manipulativeness, remorselessness, impulsivity, irresponsibility, and engagement in antisocial conduct. Of the psychological attributes that contribute to a heightened risk of criminal, aggressive, and violent behavior, psychopathy is one of the strongest and most widely researched predictor variables (i.e., an independent variable that is measured and used to predict the value of a dependent, or criterion variable, such as crime). Psychopathic traits predict higher rates of aggression, violence, and crime among civil psychiatric patients, criminal offenders, forensic inpatients, juvenile delinquents, and community members. Despite relatively small prevalence estimates for psychopathic offenders within the prison population (15–25%), these individuals tend to be responsible for a disproportionate amount ...

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