Personality Constellations in Incarcerated Men Who Scored High on Psychopathy Open Access

Blagov, Pavel Spassov (2009)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/5t34sj769?locale=en
Published

Abstract

Personality Constellations in Incarcerated Men Who Scored High on Psychopathy

By Pavel S. Blagov
Recent advances in the operationalization of psychopathy have led to an increased understanding
of the boundaries, the structure, and the nomological network of its construct. Research has
reached a point where the empirical identification of replicable and theoretically meaningful
psychopathy variants may lead to further advances in the field. We reviewed for theoretical
models that account for psychopathy subtypes and conducted a classification study of 91
incarcerated men who met conventional criteria for high levels of psychopathy as defined by
Hare's (1991) Psychopathy Checklist --- Revised. We expanded upon the methodology of previous
research on psychopathy subtypes by utilizing a comprehensive personality assessment
instrument (the Shedler-Westen Assessment Procedure --- II; Westen & Shedler, 1999) and a
prototype matching approach to classification. The analyses revealed a primary (malignant
narcissistic) subtype and a secondary (hostile and dysregulated) subtype that were generally
consistent with the previous literature and lent support to Patrick's (2007) application of the dual-
process model and the neurophysiological theory of affect to psychopathy. We also found limited
evidence for a pseudopsychopathic (thrill-seeking) subtype. External validation analyses,
statistical controls, and incremental validity analyses provided substantial support for the primary
and secondary subtypes (but not for the thrill-seeking one). Future studies on the diagnosis,
etiology, prevention, and treatment of psychopathy will likely benefit from taking into account its
primary and secondary variants.

Table of Contents


Table of Contents

Introduction.........................................................................................................................1
History of the Psychopathy Construct ......................................................................1
Heterogeneity in Psychopathy ..................................................................................3
Factor Structure of Psychopathy .....................................................................4
Psychopathy Subtypes ....................................................................................6
Theoretical Accounts of Heterogeneity in Psychopathy...........................................14
The Dual-process Model..................................................................................14
The Aggression-inhibition Model....................................................................16
The Paralimbic Dysfunction Model.................................................................18
Pseudopsychopathic Subtypes .........................................................................20
Differential Predictions of Subtypes ................................................................21
The Present Study .....................................................................................................21
Participant Sample ..........................................................................................22
A Prototype Matching Approach ....................................................................23
Item Set ...........................................................................................................25
Subtyping Technique .......................................................................................26
Predictions........................................................................................................29
Preliminary Validation and Incremental Validity Analyses ............................29
Method ................................................................................................................................30
Participants................................................................................................................30
Procedures.................................................................................................................31
Measures ...................................................................................................................32
Measures Collected Prior to the Current Project.............................................32
Measures Collected for the Purposes of the Current Project ..........................36

Results.................................................................................................................................43
Most Descriptive Characteristics ..............................................................................43
Psychopathy Subtypes ..............................................................................................44
External Validation ...................................................................................................47
Potential Confounds..................................................................................................50
Ethnicity..........................................................................................................50
Confidence ......................................................................................................51
Interpersonal Behavior in the Interview..........................................................52
Incremental Validity over Interpersonal Traits........................................................54
Observer Report of Impulsivity ...............................................................................55
Validity Scales .........................................................................................................55
Incremental Validity over the PCL-R Factors .........................................................56
Discussion...........................................................................................................................57
Limitations ................................................................................................................63
Implications and Conclusions ...................................................................................65
References...........................................................................................................................68
Tables..................................................................................................................................87-111
Appendices..........................................................................................................................112-118

List of Tables & Figures
Table 1

Models of the Factor Structure of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist -- Revised (Hare, 1991)......87

Table 2
In Hicks et al. (2004), Two Subtypes of Psychopaths (Emotionally Stable, N=30, and
Aggressive, N = 66) Differed on the Primary Dimensions and the Higher-order Factors
of the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire -- Brief Form (MPQ-BF; Patrick et al.,
2002) from a Normative Sample and from Non-psychopathic Prisoner Controls (N=125). .......88

Table 3
Summary of Theoretical Accounts of Psychopathy Subtypes .....................................................89

Table 4
Most PCL-R Items have a Semantic Equivalent in the SWAP-II................................................90

Table 5
Predictions about Psychopathy Subtypes and Their Relationships to External Variables...........91

Table 6
The 30 Highest-ranking SWAP-II Items Comprising the Most Descriptive Characteristics
of 91 Incarcerated Men with High PCL-R Total Scores (PCL-R 30).......................................92

Table 7
Correspondence between SWAP-II Descriptive Characteristics of Highly Psychopathic
Men Identified with the SWAP-II and PCL-R Items...................................................................93

Table 8
Q-factor 1: Secondary Psychopathy ............................................................................................95

Table 9
Q-factor 2: Primary Psychopathy.................................................................................................96

Table 10
Q-factor 3: Thrill-Seeking Subtype .............................................................................................97

Table 11
Multivariate and Univariate Tests of Rater Effects on Mean Q-factor Loadings (N = 91) .........98

Table 12
Descriptive Statistics for the Validation Variables ......................................................................99

Table 13
Descriptive Statistics for the Potential Third Variables...............................................................100

Table 14
Tests of Predictions about Correlations between Psychopathic Personality Subtypes
(Participants' Loadings on the Three Q-factors) and External Variables. ..................................101

Table 15

Correlations between Psychopathic Personality Subtypes (Participants' Loadings on the
Three Q-factors) and Potentially Confounding or Mediating Variables......................................102

Table 16
SWAP-II Items Most Closely Associated with Ethnicity at = .01 (N = 91) .............................103

Table 17
Partial Correlations Controlling for Ethnicity. ............................................................................104

Table 18
Partial Correlations Controlling for the Factors of the Confidence Scale (Confidence and
Difficulty). ..................................................................................................................................105

Table 19
Partial Correlations Controlling for the Interpersonal Measure of Psychopathy .........................106

Table 20
Partial Correlations Controlling for the IAS-R Dimensions of Dominance and Hostility...........107

Table 21
Associations between Participants' SWAP-II Profiles' Degree of Match to the Three
Psychopathy Subtypes and the Five Factors of the Impulsivity Questionnaire (N = 90). ...........108

Table 22
Patterns of Association between Participants' Loadings on the Three Q-factors
(Psychopathy Subtypes) and Validity Scales of the MPQ ( N = 79) ............................................109

Table 23
Partial Correlations Controlling for the MPQ Vrin Scale............................................................110

Table 24
Associations between SWAP-II Psychopathy Subtypes and External Validations Variables
while Controlling for Corresponding PCL-R Factors..................................................................111


About this thesis

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
School
Department
Degree
Submission
Language
  • English
Research field
Keyword
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Committee Members
Last modified

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files