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J Abnorm Psychol. 2004 Nov;113(4):626-35.

A taxometric analysis of psychopathic personality.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX 77341-2447, USA.


Although a common assumption throughout much of the professional and popular literature is that psychopaths are qualitatively different from others, very few studies have examined the latent structure of psychopathy. Whether psychopathy is a discrete category or a continuous dimension may have implications for research on the assessment, etiology, and treatment of this disorder. This study examined the latent structure of psychopathy in a sample of 309 jail and prison inmates. Three taxometric procedures were used to analyze indicators drawn from the Psychopathic Personality Inventory (S. O. Lilienfeld & B. P. Andrews, 1996), a self-report instrument. Consistent with prior studies that used other measures of psychopathy, none of the analyses was consistent with a taxonic solution, suggesting that psychopathic personality may be best understood as existing on a continuum.

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