Which PCL-R Scores Best Predict Forensic Clinicians’ Opinions of Offender Risk? [2018]

The Psychopathy Checklist–Revised (PCL-R) is widely used in assessments of violence risk and sexual recidivism risk. Research consistently reveals Factor 2 (Lifestyle/Antisocial Behavior) scores are more reliable and predictive than Factor 1 (Interpersonal/Affective) scores in assessing recidivism risk. Nevertheless, interpersonal-affective offender traits more strongly influence sentencing decisions among mock jurors. We examined PCL-R and Static-99R scores evaluators (N = 99) assigned to three sexual offenders, and the association between these scores and evaluators’ ratings of offender risk (i.e., likelihood of reoffense). Findings suggest that risk ratings were more strongly associated with the personality features assessed by Factor 1 scores than with the antisocial behaviors assessed by Factor 2 scores, even though research reveals the latter are more relevant to risk. Specifically, evaluator perceptions of interpersonal traits (i.e., Facet 1) emerged as the primary determinant of risk judgments, whereas offenders’ antisocial histories (i.e., Facet 4) were not associated with any judgments.

Brett O. Gardner, Marcus T. Boccaccini, Daniel C. Murrie

Criminal Justice and Behavior, Vol 45, Issue 9, 2018