Exploring the taxometric status of psychopathy among youthful offenders: is there a juvenile psychopath taxon?
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Several recent studies have examined the taxometric status of psychopathic and antisocial traits in adult samples, almost all of which have supported a dimensional model. The three studies examining whether psychopathic traits among youths are best conceptualized as a discrete latent class (or taxon) or as a dimensional construct, however, have provided conflicting results. In a sample of 723 delinquent youths who completed two self-report measures of psychopathic traits, results across taxometric procedures provided uniform support for a dimensional model. Additionally, analyses comparing putative dichotomous and dimensional classification models in terms of predicting relevant criterion measures (e.g., delinquent behavior, substance abuse, and hostility) indicated superior validity for the dimensional model. Implications for research, policy, and practice are reviewed.