Validation of the Elemental Psychopathy Assessment in a sample of incarcerated males
Gaughan, Eric Thomas
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In response to limitations of extant psychopathy assessments, Lynam and Widiger (2007) recently advocated using a broad model of personality functioning to identify the core elements of psychopathy in order to develop a more accurate and comprehensive conceptualization of this PD. These authors identified a consensus set of psychopathic traits which eventually led to the development of the Elemental Psychopathy Assessment (EPA; Lynam, Gaughan, Miller, & Widiger, under review), a new self-report measure of psychopathy based on the Five-Factor Model of personality (McCrae & Costa, 1990). The current study examined the construct validity of the EPA in a sample of incarcerated males. The EPA demonstrated good convergence with an alternative psychopathy assessment, the Self-Report Psychopathy Scale (SRP-III; Williams, Paulhus, & Hare, 2007). The EPA bore meaningful associations with individual SRP-III factors which were consistent with the content of these scales. Additionally, the EPA exhibited convergent relations with externalizing behavior and disciplinary infractions. Because of the inclusion of simple traits, the EPA provided a clear view of the psychopathic features underlying specific externalizing behaviors and forms of misconduct. The EPA also manifested greater predictive and incremental validity than the SRP-III for disciplinary infractions. Assessing the elemental units of psychopathy with the EPA has multiple advantages compared to alternative assessment methods, including the ability to examine the basic traits underlying behavioral outcomes of interest like externalizing behavior and institutional misconduct. The present study provides additional support for the construct validity of the EPA and highlights strengths of this assessment approach.