Psychopathy has long been noted to play an important role in the prediction of criminal behavior and offending. Although many studies have demonstrated that psychopathic traits are predictive of violent recidivism among offenders, relatively few studies have examined the predictive validity of psychopathic traits for nonviolent recidivism and very few have examined this issue in a sample of offenders in the United States. To address this issue, we examined the predictive validity of psychopathy for both nonviolent and general recidivism using the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) in a sample of 422 county jail inmates. We also examined whether ratings on Factors 1 and 2 differentially predicted nonviolent and general recidivism and whether predictive validity varied among European American, African American, and Latino American male offenders. Psychopathic traits were modestly predictive of nonviolent and general (total) recidivism. Factor 2 ratings were not more predictive of nonviolent recidivism than Factor 1 ratings in this sample, but the two factor scores also predicted nonviolent recidivism interactively. Psychopathic traits were also predictive of both outcomes in subsamples of European American and African American offenders, but not among Latino American offenders. Findings are consistent in magnitude and pattern with prior studies addressing the prediction of violence, and they show that the relationship between psychopathy and criminal conduct generalizes to the prediction of nonviolent crime in a United States offender sample. Results suggest potential differences between the predictive validity of psychopathy among Latino American offenders and other racial/ethnic groups, which suggest the need for additional research.
Anderson, J. R., Walsh, Z., & Kosson, D. S.
Law and Human Behavior, 2018