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Interpersonal assessment of psychopathy Foreman, Michael Ernest


This study was concerned with the relations between representations of psychopathy and interpersonal perceptions. From 147 inmates seen in a federal medium security prison, 79 of the men provided complete data for comparisons. Groups were defined under criteria from (1) the Psychopathy Checklist (PC) (Hare, 1985b), or (2) American Psychiatric Association (1980, 1987) outlines for Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD). Measures were derived from the Interpersonal Adjective Scales-Revised (IAS-R) (Wiggins, Trapnell, and Phillips, 1988 ) which relate interpersonally defined perceptions of personality as locations within a circumplex space--Interpersonal Circle (Wiggins, 1979, 1980). Self-ratings were obtained as descriptive of (1) self, (2) ideal self, (3) self as thought seen by a friends, and (4) self as thought seen by a specific member of the institutional staff. A rating was also obtained from the specific staff members as descriptive of the particular inmates. Comparisons were also made with respect to the specificity and sensitivity of MMPI profiles considered relevant to psychopathy. Supplementary comparisons used selected scales from the Adjective Checklist (ACL) (Gough and Heilbrun, 1980) and Rosenberg's (1965) Self- esteem Scale. These comparisons provided manipulation checks of the consistency of the data and contributed to the interpretive generalizability of the results. The primary hypotheses were that a group of individuals defined as psychopathic would show differences in representations obtained from self-rated and other-rated descriptions, with respect to circumplex location and derived difference scores from the IAS-R, in comparison to groups considered non-psychopathic. Results indicated differential perceptions, particularly by staff members, which provided good discriminations of groups based on the PC but not for groups defined by APD. Circumplex locations of psychopaths defined by the PC were consistent with expectations for the Interpersonal Circle. The discriminative utility of group differences was much higher for the PC-defined groups than for APD relative to the base rates for these different categorizations. The results are discussed in terms of (1) their contribution to the nomological network for the concept of psychopathy as represented by the PC, (2) specific limitations of the study, and (3) the evident confusion which can result from the use of measures assumed to to relate to the 'psychopath,' but that rely on primarily behavioural descriptions.

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