Awarded New Investigator/Doctoral Dissertation Grant


Psychopathy is associated with severe and frequent violence and antisocial behavior, but little is known about its structure and validity in youth. Even less is known about psychopathy in females, a group at substantial risk for aggression and violence.

Objectives: The proposed study will examine psychopathy in a multi ethnic sample of maltreated and comparison adolescents in Los Angeles (LA), and increase fundamental knowledge about this important risk factor for violence, particularly among young females. Specific Aims: 1a) To delineate the factor structure of psychopathy [as measured by the Antisocial Process Screening Device (APSD; Frick & Hare, 2001 )] in this sample; 1b) To test the invariance of the resultant factor model across gender, ethnic and maltreatment group 2) To examine the cross-informant validity of the APS via multi-trait, multi-method approaches; and 3) To investigate the relationship between APSD psychopathy and aggression, conduct problems, and delinquency.

Major Hypotheses: 1) a 3-factor structure: will best characterize the APSD; 2) the APSD will show on invariance across gender; 3) when examined separately in males and females, the APSD will show cross-informant validity; and 4) broadly, psychopathy will be significantly positively related to aggression conduct problems and delinquency.

Study Design: The proposed study utilizes data collected at the 3rd time point of the USC Young Adolescent Project, an ongoing longitudinal study of the impact of neglect on development (Dr. Penelope Trickett, PI).

Participants: A study group (N=303) was recruited from substantiated maltreatment reports to the LA Department of Child and Family Services within 10 zip codes in urban LA. A comparison group (N=151) was recruited from schools in the same 10 zip codes. Mean age at study entry was 10.9 years (SD=1.15), and comprised 53% male, 39% Latino, 37% African American, 12% White and 12% mixed/ biracial participants. Data is also collected from caretakers and teachers.

Measures: APSD scores will be correlated with scores on the Aggressiveness/ Bullying and Delinquent Misbehavior subscales of the parent and self-report Child Behavior Checklist (Achenbach, 1991; see Noll et al., in preparation), the Reactive-Proactive Questionnaire (Raine et al., in press), and the self-report Adolescent Delinquency Questionnaire (see Huizinga& Morse, 1986).