The psychopathy construct in a Swedish context : conceptualization and validation of different assessments

by Karolina Sörman

Institution: Karolinska Institute
Year: 2015
Record ID: 1328981
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10616/44652


Psychopathy is a personality disorder that is associated with affective and interpersonal features (e.g., lack of empathy, egocentricity) in combination with behavioral deviance. Despite being extensively researched, formal criteria for classifying psychopathy are lacking, and some of its core features are intensively debated in the field (Skeem et al., 2011). One of the reasons behind the conceptual controversy is that during the past three decades, psychopathy has mainly been operationalized with one single measure, the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R; Hare 1991, 2003). Alternative assessments and models of psychopathy have gained increased attention in international research. This dissertation project aimed to investigate the reliability and validity of traditional and alternative assessments and models of psychopathy, primarily in a Swedish context. Study I aimed to investigate the field reliability of the PCL-R in a Swedish setting, involving life-sentenced offenders (N = 27) undergoing court-ordered risk assessments. The results demonstrated good reliability for the antisocial Facet 4, but considerably lower reliability for the remaining facets. The aim of Study II was to investigate the psychometric properties of the Swedish translation of the self-report measure Psychopathic Personality Inventory-Revised (PPI-R; Lilienfeld & Widows, 2005) in a non-criminal sample (N = 227). The results demonstrated solid reliability (test-retest and internal consistency) and somewhat mixed construct validity for the PPI-R. Factor analyses failed to confirm any of the proposed factor structures. In Study III, we investigated perceptions of the Comprehensive Assessment of Psychopathic Personality (CAPP; Cooke et al., 2012) model among Swedish forensic practitioners (N = 90), using prototypicality analysis. The aim was also to investigate broader perceptions and attitudes about psychopathy. The results demonstrated support for the content validity of the CAPP, and findings were highly similar to those in previous international research. Study IV aimed to investigate perceptions of the Boldness construct from the Triarchic model of psychopathy (Patrick et al., 2009) among professional and layperson raters from Sweden and the U.S. (N = 535), using prototypicality analysis. The results demonstrated general support for the content validity of Boldness, even though the ratings varied across the subgroups. In conclusion, this dissertation project demonstrated mixed findings regarding the field reliability of the PCL-R. It also demonstrated support for the reliability and validity of alternative assessments and models of psychopathy.