Psychopathic, not psychopath: taxometric evidence for the dimensional structure of psychopathy.
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Although psychopathy is frequently regarded as qualitatively distinct from other conditions, relatively little research has examined whether psychopaths represent a distinct class of individuals. Using a sample of 876 prison inmates and court-ordered substance abuse patients who were administered the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (R. D. Hare, 2003), the authors examined the latent structure of psychopathy using several taxometric procedures developed by Meehl and colleagues (P. E. Meehl & L. J. Yonce, 1994; N. G. Waller & P. E. Meehl, 1998). The results across these procedures offer no compelling support for the contention that psychopathy is a taxonic construct and contradict previous reports that psychopathy is underpinned by a latent taxon. The authors discuss the theoretical, public policy, and practice-level implications of these findings.