Psychopathy is a personality disorder typically characterized by dysfunctions relating to affect, interpersonal relationships, and behavioural style. There is debate as to whether antisocial behaviours represent a defining feature of psychopathy or secondary symptoms that are consequential to the remaining core traits. Further, there is debate as to whether the “gold standard” measure of psychopathic traits – the Psychopathy Checklist (PCL) by Hare (1991, 2003) fully represents the construct of psychopathy. Given these concerns, a new measure of psychopathic personality disorder (PPD) that is purely personality focused and which represents a more comprehensive array of psychopathic symptoms was developed by Cooke, Hart, and Logan (2005). This dissertation consists of a series of analyses that together explore the construct validity of this new instrument, the Comprehensive Assessment of Psychopathic Personality – Institutional Rating Scale (CAPP-IRS) in a sample of incarcerated serious and violent young offenders. Given that evidence supports a biological pathway towards the development of PPD, neurological development during childhood and adolescence is first discussed in order to make the case for the need to consider age-graded analyses. The first analysis then tests the theoretical structure of the CAPP-IRS using internal structural reliability analyses and a confirmatory factor analysis with 186 male and female incarcerated youth. The second analysis explores the empirical structure of the CAPP-IRS using an exploratory factor analysis with a sub-sample of 147 male incarcerated youth. The third analysis explores the convergent and divergent validity of the CAPP-IRS domains with similar and dissimilar constructs using correlational analyses in the sub-sample of male incarcerated youth. In addition to these analyses, this dissertation explores the absence of PPD from criminological theory, and discusses the historical precedence for criminologists to utilize instead the more simplistic construct of low self-control proposed by Gottfredson and Hirschi in their general theory of crime (1990). The dissertation concludes with some suggestions for integrating PPD into developmental and life-course criminological theory, and considers why this integration should be facilitated by the CAPP-IRS as opposed to the construct defined by the PCL.
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Thesis advisor: Corrado, Raymond
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