Prototypical Analysis of Adolescent Psychopathy: Investigating the Juvenile Justice Perspective

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Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


The past ten years have seen a dramatic increase in the empirical investigation of psychopathic characteristics in children and adolescents. In general, the focus of this research has been on the validation of assessment instruments to evaluate psychopathy as well as concurrent and predictive validity. Little attention has been directed toward elucidating the core characteristics of this construct. The current study expands on previous research by asking juvenile justice personnel (424 juvenile detention and probation officers) to identify the core characteristics of the construct via prototypical analysis for both male and female adolescents. Results of separate factor analyses by gender revealed five identifiable dimensions: juvenile delinquency, serious/violent conduct problems, narcissistic/ manipulation of others, impulsivity/acting out, and family problems. The results suggest that juvenile justice personnel focus on a wide range of behavioral indicators as indicative of adolescent psychopathy in addition to affective and interpersonal characteristics typically viewed as crucial to the construct by clinicians.

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APA Citation: Cruise, K. R., Colwell, L. H., Lyons, P. M., & Baker, M. D. (2003). Prototypical analysis of adolescent psychopathy: Investigating the juvenile justice perspective. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 21(6), 829-846. doi: 10.1002/bsl.560