Psychopathy (PCL-R) Predicts Violent Recidivism Among Criminal Offenders with Personality Disorders in Sweden

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Abstract

Psychopathy as conceptualized with Hare's Psychopathy Checklist Revised, PCL-R, has attracted much research during the 1990s. In the Scandinavian countries, few studies that empirically support the validity of North American risk assessment techniques in our regional context have been published. The purpose of this paper is to explore the predictive power of the PCL-R in a population of personality-disordered violent offenders subjected to forensic psychiatric evaluation in Sweden. Following release from prison (n = 172), discharge from forensic psychiatric treatment (n = 129), or probation (n = 57), a total of 352 individuals were followed for up to 8 years (mean = 3.7 years) with reconviction for violent crime as endpoint variable (base rate 34%). As the estimate of predictive power, the area under the curve of a receiver operating characteristic (AUC of ROC) analysis was calculated. For PCL-R scores to predict 2-year violent recidivism, AUC of ROC was .72 (95% CI: .66-.78). In addition, the personality dimension of psychopathy (Factor 1) and the behavioral component (Factor 2) both predicted 2-year recidivism significantly better than random: AUC of ROC .64 (95% CI: .57-.70) and .71 (95% CI: .65-.77), respectively. We conclude that psychopathy is probably as valid a predictor of violent recidivism in Swedish forensic settings as seen in previous North American studies

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