Levenson Self-report Psychopathy Scale (LSRP)

The Levenson Self-report Psychopathy Scale (LSRP) was created in 1995 by Michael R Levenson. It is a measure of psychopathic/sociopathic (interchangeable) traits. Psychopathy/sociopathy are colloquial terms for Anti-social Personality Disorder.

Originally two Subscales, 26 items

-Primary psychopathy (psychopathic emotional affect) – 16 items
-Secondary psychopathy (psychopathic lifestyle) – 10 items

More current research proposes a three-way model (three sub-scales) which can be broken up into egocentricity, callousness and anti-social.

Example items

  • Success is based on survival of the fittest; I am not concerned with the losers
  • I find that I am able to pursue one goal for a long time
  • Looking out for myself is my top priority
  • I often admire a really clever scam

Validity checks

  • Internal validity – Cronbach’s alpha: .84 (Sellbom, 2009)
  • Has been validated with prison and non-prison samples (Sellbom, 2011)
  • Good test-retest reliability
  • Good convergent reliability with other psychopathy measures (Sellbom, 2011)

Cross-cultural evidence

The LSRP was originally developed for Western individuals, specifically a North American audience. The LSRP has since been translated into Chinese, and used for Chinese populations. Internal convergent and discriminate validity remained high (Shou, Sellbom & Han, 2016)

Advantages

  • Free to the public
  • Quick to administer
  • Valid across culture

Disadvantages

  • Not well validated in a clinical setting

References:

Levenson, M., Kiehl, K., Fitzpatrick, C. (1995). Assessing psychopathic attributes in a noninstitutionalized population.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 151-158.

Shou, Y., Sellbom, M., & Han, J. (2016). Evaluating the Construct Validity of the Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scale in China. Assessment. doi: 10.1177/1073191116637421

Sellbom, M. (2011). Elaborating on the construct validity of the Levenson Self-report Psychopathy Scale in incarcerated and non-incarcerated Samples. Law and Human Behaviour, 6, 440 – 451.

Hare Psychopathy Checklist – Revised (PCL-R)

The Hare Psychopathy Checklist – Revised (PCL-R) is a diagnostic tool that was developed in the 1990s and is used to rate a person’s psychopathic and/or antisocial tendencies (Hare, 1993). A psychopath is characterised by the following symptoms: lack of conscience or sense of guilt; lack of empathy; egocentricity; pathological lying; disregard for the law and social convention; shallow emotion; and a history of victimising others (Hare, 1993). The PCL-R is used to diagnose psychopathy in individuals across clinical, legal, and research contexts. It was originally designed to identify the degree of a person’s (adult forensic population) psychopathic tendencies. More recently, the PCL-R is also being used on other groups: female forensic populations, sex offenders, and adolescent offenders (Grann, Langstrom, Tengstrom & Kullgren, 1999).

The PCL-R is a 20-item symptom construct rating scale used predominantly in forensic settings. Each of the 20 items is a complex, higher-order trait (i.e. Shallow Affect, Criminal Versatility; Impulsivity). The response format is a 3-point scale, where 0 = item does not apply; 1 = item applies somewhat; 2 = applies definitely. Once completed, a suitably qualified clinician will sum individual items to yield dimensional scores that reflect the severity of psychopathic traits. A score of 30 or greater corresponds to a diagnosis of psychopathy. To put scores into context, an individual with no criminal background will generally score at around 5, and many non-psychopathic criminals score around the 22 range. The administration and scoring will take about 3 hours. An important note is that the PCL-R is not used in isolation to perform a diagnosis; rather, it is used in combination with a semi-structured interview and a review of the client’s file records and history. This is to compensate for the face that psychopaths are prone to lying, and are generally quite good at it. The interview evaluates the background of the subject, such as their work and educational background, marital and family status, and criminal background. Overall, two key elements of a psychopath are assessed: selfish and unfeeling victimisation of other people, and an unstable and antisocial lifestyle.

The norms for the PCL-R are based on data of 7 samples of adult male prisoners (N = 1192) and 4 samples of adult male forensic psychiatric prisoners (N = 440). In terms of its construction, more than 100 items were generated through a literature review and clinical experience. Thereafter, factor analysis reduced the 100 items down to 20 reliable items. The PCL-R has good reliability and validity (internal consistency = .87; interrater reliability =.94; test-retest reliability = .89 (Hare, Clark, Grann & Thornton, 2000). Additionally, the predictive validity of the PCL-R is good insofar as results from several studies have indicated that the PCL-R scores are correlated with antisocial and violent behaviour (inside and outside of prison). This includes recidivism and response to correctional treatments (Grenn et al., 1993). In comparison to other measures of psychopathy, the PCL-R’s ability to predict criminal behaviour is as good as, or better than the ADP and MMPI (Hare, 1993).

The PCL-R is available to buy online at a cost of about $550 US. It is a useful diagnostic tool in forensic populations and is also used in research. In considering the populations that the PCL-R is used with, research in this area would be difficult in terms of approval of ethics. It is imperative that this tool is only used by professionals who have been specifically trained in its use and who have a comprehensive understanding of the current literature pertaining to psychopathy (Freeman, 2001). Diagnosing an individual as a psychopath is a very serious statement with everlasting implications for the person and their family. Notwithstanding, when used by competent professionals, the PCL-R is a reliable and valid tool for diagnosing psychopathy in forensic settings.

References

Freedman, M. David. (2001). False prediction of future dangerousness: Error rates and Psychopathy Checklist-Revised. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law, 29, no. 1, 89-95.

Grann, M., N. Langström, A. Tengström and G. Kullgren. Psychopathy (PCL-R) predicts violent recidivism among criminal offenders with personality disorders in Sweden. Law and Human Behaviour, 23, no. 2 (April, 1999): 205-217.

Hare, Robert D. (1993). Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Hare, R., Clark, D., Grann, M., & Thornton, T. (2000). Psychopathy and the Predictive Validity of the PCL-R: An International Perspective. Behavioural Sciences and the Law, 18, 623-645.

 

Inventory of Callous Unemotional Traits (ICU)

The ICU (Frick, 2004) is a 24-item questionnaire that assesses callous and unemotional (CU) traits, a central feature of psychopathy, also known as abnormal affective empathy (Jones et al, 2010). CU traits are defined by lack of empathy, guilt, remorse and emotion (Moran et al, 2009). CU traits have highlighted a distinct subgroup of antisocial youth at risk for severe, aggressive, and stable conduct problems. (Ciucci et al, 2014). Past studies have consistently shown CU traits as positively associated with school behaviour problems, low academic achievement, bullying, and reactive aggression. The ICU has three subscales: callousness, uncaring and unemotional. There are five versions of the scale, relating to age (youth or preschool) and who completes the ICU (self, parent or teacher). The ICU is made up of statements with a 4-point Likert scale, ranging from 0 (Not at all true) to 3 (Definitely True), with higher scores indicating greater CU traits. Example items include statements such as: “I express my feelings openly”, “ I feel bad or guilt when I do something wrong” and “I do not care if I get in trouble”. The ICU was developed in the USA, by Paul J. Frick in 2004 (Department of Psychology, University of New Orleans).

Psychometric properties

Evidence supports the reliability and validity of ICU scores among youth (Kimonis et al, 2014). The reliability and construct validity (i.e. factor structure, correlations with aggression and delinquency) of the ICU have been supported in several different samples using different translations (Essau et al. 2006; Fanti et al. 2009; Kimonis et al. 2008; Roose et al. 2010). Across samples and languages, the best fitting factor structure shows a general callous-unemotional factor and three sub factors: callousness (e.g., “the feelings of others are unimportant to me”), unemotional (e.g., “I hide my feelings from others”), and uncaring (e.g., “I try not to hurt others’ feelings”) (reversed scored item). Cuicci and colleagues (2008) examined the factor structure of a comprehensive measure of CU traits (the ICU; Kimonis et al. 2008). Consistent with past research, the confirmatory factor analyses largely supported the factor structure found in other samples with other translations (Essau et al. 2006; Fanti et al. 2009; Kimonis et al. 2008; Roose et al. 2010). These results, combined with the results from past factor analyses, provide strong support for the structure of the ICU across languages, types of samples, gender, and age. In fact, a recent publication supported this factor structure for parent report on the ICU in a sample as young as ages 3 and 4 (Ezpeleta et al. 2012). Given this consistent support for this factor structure of the ICU and its implications for understanding the structure of CU traits, it is important that research continues to explore the differential associations of the total score and subscales with theoretically and practically important variables.

Use

The ICU is an unpublished rating scale (Frick 2004, Department of Psychology, University of New Orleans ([email protected]). It is available free online: http://labs.uno.edu/developmental-psychopathology/ICU.html

References

Ciucci, E., Baroncelli, A., Franchi, M., Golmaryami, F. N., & Frick, P. J. (2014). The association between callous-unemotional traits and behavioral and academic adjustment in children: Further validation of the Inventory of Callous-Unemotional Traits. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 36(2), 189-200.

Essau, C. A., Sasagawa, S., & Frick, P. J. (2006). Callous-unemotional traits in community sample of adolescents. Assessment, 13, 454 – 469

Fanti, K. A., Frick, P. J., & Georgiou, S. (2009). Linking callous unemotional traits to instrumental and non-instrumental forms of aggression. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 31, 285–298

Frick, P. J. (2004). The Inventory of Callous-Unemotional Traits. New Orleans, LA: UNO.

Jones, A. P., Happé, F. G., Gilbert, F., Burnett, S., & Viding, E. (2010). Feeling, caring, knowing: different types of empathy deficit in boys with psychopathic tendencies and autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 51(11), 1188-1197.

Kimonis, E. R., Fanti, K., Goldweber, A., Marsee, M. A., Frick, P. J., & Cauffman, E. (2014). Callous-unemotional traits in incarcerated adolescents. Psychological Assessment, 26(1), 227.

Kimonis, E. R., Frick, P. J., Skeem, J., Marsee, M. A., Cruise, K., Muñoz, L. C., & Morris, A. S. (2008). Assessing callous-unemotional traits in adolescent offenders: validation of the inventory of callous-unemotional traits. Journal of the International Association of Psychiatry and Law, 31, 241–252.

Moran, P., Rowe, R., Flach, C., Briskman, J., Ford, T., Maughan, B., Scott, S. & Goodman, R. (2009). Predictive value of callous-unemotional traits in a large community sample. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 48(11), 1079-1084.

Roose, A., Bijttebier, P., Decoene, S., Claes, L., & Frick, P. J. (2010). Assessing the affective features of psychopathy in adolescence: A further validation of the inventory of callous and unemotional traits. Assessment, 17, 44 –57