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Validation of subclinical psychopathy via peer ratings and concrete behavior Nathanson, Craig

Abstract

Clinical psychopathy is characterized by cold affect, interpersonal manipulation, antisocial behavior, and impulsive thrill seeking. Recently, a similar but less extreme form of clinical psychopathy in 'normal' populations has been proposed — 'subclinical psychopathy.' Although initial work has provided some understanding of subclinical psychopathy, the construct has not been fully validated. To this end, two studies were conducted to further validate the subclinical psychopathy using peer-ratings and concrete behavior as criteria. Study 1 examined whether knowledgeable raters could identify subclinical psychopaths and distinguish them from other dark personalities. Results indicated that subclinical psychopathy emerged as a distinct construct. That is, individuals who scored high on a self-report measure of subclinical psychopathy are rated similarly by those who know them well. To bolster previous research using self-report measures, Study 2 used a concrete measure of misbehavior, namely, exam cheating. Results indicated that self-report subclinical psychopathy was a strong independent predictor of cheating independent of cognitive ability and other personality measures. Taken together, these findings suggest that subclinical psychopathy is a valid and viable construct.

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