Using Latent Variable- and Person-Centered Approaches to Examine the Role of Psychopathic Traits in Sex Offenders

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The current study employed both latent variable- and person-centered approaches to examine psychopathic traits in a large sample of sex offenders (N = 958). The offenders, who had committed a range of sexual crimes, had been assessed with the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R; Hare, 2003). Structural equation modeling results indicated that the four-factor model of psychopathy (Hare, 2003; Neumann, Hare, & Newman, 2007) provided good representation of the dimensional nature of psychopathic traits across the sample of offenders, and that the PCL-R factors significantly predicted sexual crimes. In particular, the Affective and Antisocial psychopathy factors each predicted sexually violent crimes. Latent profile analysis results revealed evidence for a 4-class solution, with the subtypes showing distinct PCL-R facet profiles, consistent with previous research. The four subtypes were validated using sexual crime profiles. The prototypic psychopathy subtype (high on all 4 PCL-R facets) evidenced more violent sexual offenses than did the other subtypes. Taken together, the results demonstrate how variable- and person-centered approaches in combination can add to our understanding of the psychopathy construct and its correlates.

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