Psychopathic-like traits in detained adolescents: clinical usefulness of self-report




Pauline Vahl, Olivier F. Colins, Henny P. B. Lodewijks, Monica T. Markus, Theo A. H. Doreleijers, Robert R. J. M. Vermeiren

European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

August 2014




Studies have demonstrated that self-report tools can be used to reliably and validly examine psychopathic-like traits in adolescents. However, it is unclear if self-report instruments are still reliable and valid when confidentiality cannot be guaranteed, such as during routine assessments in juvenile detention centres. To address this issue, the current study used data from the routine mental health screening of 365 detained male adolescents (1218 years) in two juvenile detention centres. With the intention of gaining insight in the clinical usefulness of self-reported psychopathic-like traits, we examined relations known from literature with emotional and behavioural features. Self-reported psychopathic-like traits, measured by the Youth Psychopathic Traits Inventory-Short version (YPI-S), were uniquely associated with substance abuse, anger/irritability, conduct problems and hyperactivity, but not with internalizing problems. YPI-S-dimensions showed several specific relationships with variables of interest. For example, only the callous unemotional dimension was negatively related with prosocial behaviour and only the behavioural dimension was positively related with hyperactivity. In conclusion, self-reported psychopathic-like traits showed expected relations with relevant variables. These findings suggest that self-report can be used to identify detained youths with high levels of psychopathic-like traits outside a research context, thus, even when anonymity and confidentiality are not guaranteed.








Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee