Date of Award

2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Patricia Prelock

Second Advisor

Timothy Stickle

Abstract

Psychopathic personality traits are prominent risk factors for persistent and severe expressions of antisocial behavior in youth. Historically, psychopathy in youth has been assessed via the psychopathy checklist (PCL) model, which indexes specific antisocial indicators such as past cruelty to others and reckless irresponsibility. Although it is known that these behaviors can identify a subgroup of delinquent males who are at high risk to engage in antisocial behavior, there is concern that content overlap between the behavioral indicators of the psychopathy construct and its behavioral outcomes accounts for too much variance in prediction. This overlap limits the validity of the PCL's model within populations that display lower rates of antisocial behavior (e.g., girls and community youth). Furthermore, extant research has failed to identify a consistent factor structure for the PCL model in youth. A novel triarchic model that employs the three trait dimensions of meanness, boldness, and disinhibition as trait indicators of psychopathy was recently proposed to specifically address these concerns about the PCL model. Despite the strong theoretical basis for the triarchic model, it remains untested among youth. Within a mixed-gender sample of community and adjudicated adolescents, the present study found that the Boldness and Disinhibition factors of the Triarchic Personality Measure (TriPM) were significantly associated with clinically relevant external criterion variables but dependent variables hypothesized to be associated with Meanness were better accounted for by Disinhibition. TriPM total scores concurrently predicted antisocial behaviors over and above common PCL-based measures of youth psychopathy and, independently, the TriPM accounted for a greater proportion of variance in youth antisocial behavior than did PCL-based measures. The TriPM also demonstrated superior internal consistency to PCL-based measures. A pilot Confirmatory Factor Analysis did not support the putative factor structure of the TriPM, but fit was likely impeded by sample size. Post-hoc factor analyses attempting to probe the possible factor structure of this measure suggested possible shortcomings of the items and latent factor meant to capture trait meanness. Altogether, this study provided first evidence for the triarchic model as a valid means for assessing psychopathic traits in youth and identified possible shortcomings of the TriPM for future research.

Language

en

Number of Pages

89 p.

Available for download on Thursday, July 11, 2019

Included in

Psychology Commons

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