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A Network Approach to Understanding the Structure of Core Symptoms of Psychopathic Personality Disturbance in Adolescent Offenders

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A central aim of research on psychopathic personality disturbance (PPD) involves identifying core features of the construct. This has been addressed primarily through prototypicality studies and research using item-response theory. More recently, the logic of social network analysis was extended to psychopathology research to examine which symptoms were most central to PPD networks. Such studies identified affective symptoms of the disorder as especially central among adult offenders. To build upon this prior research, the current study used data on male offenders from the Incarcerated Serious and Violent Young Offender Study to examine the network structure of the Comprehensive Assessment of Psychopathic Personality – Institutional Rating Scale (CAPP-IRS; n = 224) and Psychopathy Checklist: Youth Version (PCL:YV; n = 445). Using multiple measures of PPD helped avoid equating measures with constructs. In both the CAPP-IRS and PCL:YV networks, in line with prior studies, attachment/affective features of the disorder were most central. Several recommendations are made for future research, including the need to study the longitudinal development of PPD using a network approach.
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