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The assessment of psychopathy in female offenders Strachan, Catherine Elizabeth


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the reliability and validity of the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) for use with a female population. Seventy-five women who were either incarcerated or on probation were assessed using interview and file information. In addition, all subjects completed a battery of self-report inventories that were theoretically relevant to the PCL-R. The results strongly supported the appropriateness of the PCL-R for use with female offenders. The psychometric properties were excellent indicating a homogeneous and unidimensional scale. The factor analysis confirmed a two factor structure representing two distinct aspects of psychopathy; the personological and behavioural dimensions. The pattern of correlations obtained from the self—report inventories was highly similar to that obtained with male samples, further suggesting that the same construct is being measured in both sexes. The implications of these findings in terms of the construct of psychopathy and explanations of women’s criminality are discussed as well as future research and practical implications.

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