Psychopathy and predatory violence in homicide, violent, and sexual offences: Factor and facet relations
Article first published online: 25 MAR 2011
©2010 The British Psychological Society
Legal and Criminological Psychology
Volume 17, Issue 1, pages 59–74, February 2012
How to Cite
Declercq, F., Willemsen, J., Audenaert, K. and Verhaeghe, P. (2012), Psychopathy and predatory violence in homicide, violent, and sexual offences: Factor and facet relations. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 17: 59–74. doi: 10.1348/135532510X527722
- Issue published online: 19 JAN 2012
- Article first published online: 25 MAR 2011
- Received 5 May 2010; revised version received 4 July 2010
Purpose. Evidence has been found pointing to a relationship between psychopathy and predatory violence. The present study investigated the violence mode and its relationship with psychopathy on factor as well as on facet levels. It was hypothesized that predatory violence would be related to the affective and/or interpersonal facets of psychopathy. A subsidiary hypothesis was that sexual offences could also be differentiated by means of violence mode.
Methods. Participants were 82 male inmates convicted of a violent crime, a sexual crime, or a homicide. Psychopathy was assessed with the Hare PCL-R2 and the violence mode was assessed by means of Cornell's Aggressive Incident Coding Sheet, based on interviews with the offenders and a review of the official record.
Results. On the psychopathy subcomponent level, only the interpersonal facet was positively related with predatory violence. This association makes sense considering that psychopaths' interactions with others are defined by gradients of power and control and narcissistic gratification, rather than by attachment patterns. By contrast, the antisocial facet was associated negatively with predatory violence. Our subsidiary hypothesis concerning the possibility of differentiating sexual violence on the basis of the two violence modes was not confirmed.
Conclusions. The present results add to the growing evidence that predatory violence is related to the personality traits of psychopathy rather than to its life-style and antisocial characteristics. Therefore, a risk analysis of future predatory violent behaviour might benefit from the inclusion of the assessment of the personality facets of psychopathy instead of focusing solely on the antisocial behaviour.