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Title: Psychopathy, institutional behaviour and motivation to change in adolescent offenders
Author: Cooper, Susan
Awarding Body: University of Central Lancashire
Current Institution: University of Central Lancashire
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis examines the naturc and extent of psychopathy in adolescent offenders with a history of physical aggression, and the implications of psychopathy for institutional bchaviour and motivation to changc. The sample included fcmale participants. There were three parts to the study. Part 1 examined the nature and extent of psychopathy in the sample using thc Psychopathy Checklist-Youth Vcrsion (pCL-YV; Forth, Kosson & Hare, 2003) (n=79). Scores were lowcr than found in previous studics with adolesccnts. There was no significant relationship bctween age and psychopathy, nor wcre there significant gender differences in total PCL-YV scores. There was a significant positivc correlation betwcen psychopathy and previous offending behaviour. Part 2 of the study (n=74) examined institutional misconduct. There was a significant relationship between psychopathy and institutional misconduct, physical aggression, verbal aggression and breach of rules. The predictive validity of the PCL-YV was comparcd with the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youths (SAVRY; Borum, Bartel & Forth, 2003) and the Youth Level of Service Inventory/Case I\fanagement Inventory (YLSI/CMI; Hoge and Andrews, 1994) in relation to institutional misconduct. The SAVRY emerged as the strongest predictor, supporting the utility of this tool as a short-tcrm prcdictor of risk. The predictive validity of these tools was not supported for female participants. This highlights the need for gender-sensitive approaches to risk assessment. The nature and extent of bullying was examined usmg the Direct and Indirect Prisoner Behaviour Checklist Hospital Version (Revised) (Ireland, 2004). (n=66). There was a significant relationship between psychopathy and self-reported bullying in females, but not in males. This suggests there are gender differences in the expression of psychopathy, with psychopathy being strongly related to the perpetration of psychological harm in females. Part 3 of the study examined the relationship between psychopathy and motivation to change, as measured with the Stages of Change Scale (n=66). No significant relationship was found. A follow up interview study of high and low psychopathy participants (n=28) explorcd adolescent offcnders' attitudes to change. Although the responses of low and high psychopathy participants were similar, high psychopathy participants more often reported difficulties applying skills learned. This highlights the need to design treatment that emphasises the application of skills with high psychopathy offenders. Overall, the findings suggest that psychopathy is evident in adolescents and is related to antisocial behaviour, although this may be expressed differently in males and females. Psychopathic offenders appear to express motivation to change so attempts should be made to offer treatment to this group and reduce their risk of harm to others.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available