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Abstract

Latent class factor analysis allows for the estimation of a dimensional construct such as psychopathy through factor analysis while also examining the heterogeneity of the sample. We report the results of a latent class factor analysis examining the psychometric structure of a widely used measure of psychopathy, as well as internalizing (i.e. anxiety) and externalizing indices, among diversion program youths involved in an intervention study. The results indicated that four subgroups of adolescents existed in the data: one with high psychopathic features and externalizing problems, but low anxiety; one with moderately high affective and behavioral psychopathic features and externalizing problems, but low anxiety; one with moderately high interpersonal and behavioral psychopathic features, externalizing problems, and anxiety; and one with very low psychopathy scores, anxiety, and externalizing problems. The validity of these subgroups was assessed comparing prior family problems, substance use, and offending measures, and one-year follow-up measures of recidivism, detention days, substance use, and program completion. This study offers partial support for the existence of psychopathy subgroups and has implications for future studies of psychopathy typologies. In addition, this study employed a methodology for classification that permits consideration of the dimensional nature of a construct, and as such has implications for a variety of research areas. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.