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J Consult Clin Psychol. 1994 Apr;62(2):387-97.

Psychopathy as a taxon: evidence that psychopaths are a discrete class.

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  • 1Research Department, Mental Health Centre, Penetanguishene, Ontario, Canada.


Taxometric analyses were applied to the construct of psychopathy (as measured by the Psychopathy Checklist) and to several variables reflecting antisocial childhood, adult criminality, and criminal recidivism. Subjects were 653 serious offenders assessed or treated in a maximum-security institution. Results supported the existence of a taxon underlying psychopathy. Childhood problem behaviors provided convergent evidence for the existence of the taxon. Adult criminal history variables were continuously distributed and were insufficient in themselves to detect the taxon.

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