Evaluating the structure of psychopathic personality traits: A meta-analysis of the Psychopathic Personality Inventory. Academic Article uri icon


  • Which core traits exemplify psychopathic personality disorder is a hotly debated question within psychology, particularly regarding the role of ostensibly adaptive traits such as stress immunity, social potency, and fearlessness. Much of the research on the interrelationships among putatively adaptive and more maladaptive traits of psychopathy has focused on the factor structure of the Psychopathic Personality Inventory (PPI) and its revision, the Psychopathic Personality Inventory-Revised (PPI-R). These instruments include content scales that have coalesced to form 2 higher order factors in some (but not all) prior studies: Fearless Dominance and Self-Centered Impulsivity. Given the inconsistencies in prior research, we performed a meta-analytic factor analysis of the 8 content scales from these instruments (total N > 18,000) and found general support for these 2 dimensions in community samples. The structure among offender samples (e.g., prisoners, forensic patients) supported a 3-factor model in which the Fearlessness content scale loaded onto Self-Centered Impulsivity (rather than Fearless Dominance). There were also indications that the Stress Immunity content scale had different relations to the other PPI scales in offender versus community samples. We discuss the theoretical and diagnostic implications of these differing factor structures for the field of psychopathy research. (PsycINFO Database Record

published proceedings

  • Psychol Assess

altmetric score

  • 10.53

author list (cited authors)

  • Ruchensky, J. R., Edens, J. F., Corker, K. S., Donnellan, M. B., Witt, E. A., & Blonigen, D. M

citation count

  • 22

complete list of authors

  • Ruchensky, Jared R||Edens, John F||Corker, Katherine S||Donnellan, M Brent||Witt, Edward A||Blonigen, Daniel M

publication date

  • June 2018