Both authors are grateful for the support received from the Research and Development Directorate of the Greater Glasgow Primary Care NHS Trust to allow the preparation of this manuscript. In particular, we would like to thank Brian Rae for his ongoing support.
Psychopathic-like traits in childhood: conceptual and measurement concerns
Version of Record online: 6 FEB 2004
Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Behavioral Sciences & the Law
Special Issue: Juvenile Psychopathy Vol. 2
Volume 22, Issue 1, pages 103–125, January/February 2004
How to Cite
Johnstone, L. and Cooke, D. J. (2004), Psychopathic-like traits in childhood: conceptual and measurement concerns. Behav. Sci. Law, 22: 103–125. doi: 10.1002/bsl.577
- Issue online: 6 FEB 2004
- Version of Record online: 6 FEB 2004
- Research and Development Directorate of the Greater Glasgow Primary Care NHS Trust
Can psychopathy be identified in pre-adolescent children? This question has both theoretical and practical implications. So far, attempts to answer this question have been made by making downward extensions of symptoms of the disorder as found in adults. We argue that for the construct of psychopathy to be viable as a construct in childhood it is necessary to demonstrate that a coherent syndrome of symptoms can be identified during childhood. To achieve this it is necessary first to use a strong measurement model, and second to use developmentally informed conceptualizations of key constructs. In order to progress from the measurement perspective, it is necessary to demonstrate (i) configural invariance of symptoms across key ages, (ii) similar performance of age cognate symptoms across key ages, and (iii) stability of relative standing on the latent trait across age. Novel techniques including item response methods and structural equation modelling techniques are required. In this paper, we review the relevant literature and evaluate the strength, or otherwise, of the evidence that key traits of psychopathy can be observed in childhood. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.