An investigation of primary and secondary psychopathy in a statewide sample of incarcerated youth

Michael G. Vaughn, John F. Edens, Matthew O. Howard, Shannon Toney Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

72 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

There has been considerable interest in the identification of putative subtypes of psychopathy over the past several years although none of this research has focused on juveniles who are high in psychopathic traits. Using a statewide sample of juvenile offenders, the present study sought to identify subtypes consistent with theoretical notions of primary and secondary psychopathy. Among those youths high in psychopathic traits (n = 132), finite mixture modeling of various indicators of psychological distress resulted in a two-class solution. Consistent with theory, one subtype was characterized by higher levels of distress (e.g., anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation), whereas the other subgroup was lower on these dimensions and generally similar to nonpsychopathic control juveniles (n = 135). Analyses of theoretically relevant external correlates (e.g., offense history, drug use, victimization) suggested that the two subtypes differed from each other on certain key variables as well as differed from the nonpsychopathic controls.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-188
Number of pages17
JournalYouth Violence and Juvenile Justice
Volume7
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Jul 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Law

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