Friday, September 24, 2010

Criticisms of PCL-R confirmed by recent study

The blows keep coming to the PCL-R (Psychopathy Checklist Revisited). As one forensic psychologist blogger reports:

In a result with potentially momentous implications for forensic practitioners, the researchers found that Factor 1 of the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) does not predict violence. As you know, Factor 1 purports to measure the core constellation of a psychopathic personality (superficial charm, manipulativeness, lack of empathy, etc.). When introduced in court, evidence of psychopathy has an enormously prejudicial impact on criminal offenders.

But, the PCL-R's much-ballyhooed ability to predict certain types of violence owes only to the instrument's second factor, according to the metaanalysis by researchers Min Yang, Steve Wong, and Jeremy Coid. And that's no surprise. After all, Factor 2 measures the criminogenic factors (criminality, irresponsibility, impulsivity, history of delinquency, etc.) that even a fifth-grader knows are bad signs for a future of law-abiding citizenship.

In my experience, the Factor 1 items -- the ones purporting to measure an underlying personality profile -- are the ones more likely to be inflated by some evaluators. That's because many of these items are pretty subjective. Glib? Superficially charming? If you don't like a guy -- and/or he doesn't like you -- you are more likely to rate these negative items as present. That's one of my hypotheses for the large evaluator differences and partisan allegiance effects found with the PCL-R in forensic practice.

Cumulatively, the emerging PCL-R findings beg the question:

Why introduce the Psychopathy Checklist in court if other violence risk tools work just as well, without the implicitly prejudicial effect of labeling someone as a "psychopath"?
I wonder -- would there be any prejudicial effect of labeling someone a "psychopath" if psychologists finally stopped conflating psychopathy with violence/criminality?

11 comments:

  1. Much as I hate meta-analyses, this one gives me the very pleasant feeling that Hare may be crying.

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  2. I think to imply that psychopaths are predisposed to crime is about as accurate as to imply that females are predisposed to motherhood.

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  3. Perhaps he's a true "sociopath-like psychopath", and in order to avade being caught or singled out he's blaming it all on the violent criminals. *shrugs*

    Read up on this PCL-R via internet, and Hare sounds like he's trying to make his self fulfilled prophecy of identifying psychopaths a fact that EVERYONE has to recognize, follow, and believe. Nothing he states sounds factual or even fair. How did anyone even consider his PCL-R concrete? I was introduced to it yesterday, and already saw the continuous holes and bias in it all. Aerienne, your comment is a perfect analogy. My feelings exactly.

    Not only is he crying about this, he is contemplating suicide while eating cookies in the dark.

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  4. I think to imply that psychopaths are predisposed to crime is about as accurate as to imply that females are predisposed to motherhood.


    Define "crime."

    There are violent crimes, and non-violent crimes, after all. You may be guilty of some of the former yourself. I know I have.

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  5. Yes, degrees of "crime" vary about as much as do degrees of motherhood.

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  6. This does not surprise me at all, of course psychopaths are just as aware of the repercussions of crime as normal people. For sure, emotional coldness does not equal mental retardation

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