Variants of Psychopathy in Adult Male Offenders: A Latent Profile Analysis

Andreas Mokros, Robert D. Hare, Craig S. Neumann, Pekka Santtila, Elmar Habermeyer, Joachim Nitschke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

93 Citations (Scopus)


As measured with the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R), psychopathy is a dimensional construct underpinned by 4 correlated factors: Interpersonal, Affective, Lifestyle, and Antisocial. Theorists and clinicians (e.g., Karpman and Arieti) have posited 2 variants of "primary" or "true"psychopathy, both distinct from so-called "secondary" or "pseudopsychopathy." We used latent profile analysis to determine if homogeneous classes exist within a sample of 1,451 male offenders with highPCL-R scores (≥ 27). The 4 PCL-R factors were the dependent variables for clustering. A solution with 3 latent classes showed a better fit to the data than did a unitary model without latent classes. Tentative labels for the latent classes are Manipulative (Latent Class 1 [LC1]), Aggressive (Latent Class 2 [LC2]), and Sociopathic (Latent Class 3 [LC3]). The latter class represented an antisocial group that lacked the emotional detachment observed in the other 2 groups. We propose that LC1 andLC2 reflect phenotypic variations on a theme of the traditional construct of psychopathy, and that LC3is consistent with conceptions of antisocial personality disorder and sociopathy. Replication and external classification with an independent data set of 497 adult male offenders again yielded clearly separable clusters, as well as meaningful differences or trends among latent classes on education, intelligence, symptoms of antisocial personality disorder, and self-reported psychopathic traits and negative affect. The conceptualization of psychopathy in terms of manipulative and aggressive variants is consistent with clinical theory and is empirically grounded.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)372–386
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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