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Psychopathy and Violent Reoffending in German-Speaking Countries: A meta-analysis

By Andreas Mokros, Knut Vohs and Elmar Habermeyer


The Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) and its screening version, the PCL:SV, are clinical assessment instruments for the observer rating of psychopathic personality in offenders. Given the link between PCL-R/SV total scores and violent offending, these instruments have been incorporated into various risk assessment protocols in forensic psychology. The purpose of the present study was to examine the predictive validity of the PCL-R/SV instruments in German-speaking countries. We collated data from 11 published studies (total-N = 2,412 offenders). Based on suitable diagnostic cutscores for prototypical psychopathy, the proportions of true-positive and false-positive cases with respect to violent reoffending were compared. Overall, sensitivity was estimated at 27% and specificity at 88% for the PCL-R (or at 28% and 90% for the PCL:SV, respectively). At critical score levels, the odds for violent offense recidivism were more than two times higher than at subcritical levels for both instruments. A decision-theory analysis suggested that the implicit utility of false-positive risk assessments was about halfway between the minimal utility of false-negative assessments and the maximal utility of correct assessments. Both the PCL-R and its screening version are viable instruments for the prediction of violent offense recidivism in German-speaking countries

Topics: Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics, 610 Medicine & health
Publisher: Hogrefe & Huber
Year: 2014
DOI identifier: 10.1027/1015-5759
OAI identifier:
Provided by: ZORA
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