Structural coherence and temporal stability of psychopathic personality features during emerging adulthood

Samuel W. Hawes, Edward P. Mulvey, Carol A. Schubert, Dustin A. Pardini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Psychopathy is a complex personality disorder characterized by affective, interpersonal, and behavioral dimensions. Although features of psychopathy have been extended downwardly to earlier developmental periods, there is a discerning lack of studies that have focused on critically important issues such as longitudinal invariance and stability/change in these features across time. The current study examines these issues using a large sample of male adolescent offenders (N = 1,170) assessed across 7 annual time points during the transition into emerging adulthood (ages ̃17 to 24 years). Findings demonstrated that features of psychopathy remained longitudinally invariant across this developmental period, and showed temporally consistent and theoretically coherent associations with other measures of personality, psychopathology, and criminal behaviors. Results also demonstrated that mean levels of psychopathic personality features tended to decrease into emerging adulthood and showed relatively modest rank-order stability across assessments with 7-year lags. These findings suggest that reductions in maladaptive personality features seem to parallel the well-documented decreases in offending that occur during the early 20s.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)623-633
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Bifactor
  • Invariance
  • Psychopathy
  • Stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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