Selected Rorschach variables of psychopathic juvenile offenders.

Research paper by J L JL Loving, W F WF Russell

Indexed on: 15 Aug '00Published on: 15 Aug '00Published in: Journal of personality assessment


Despite the widely accepted utility of assessing psychopathic personality features in forensic and clinical settings, the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R; Hare, 1991) stands virtually alone in its ability to do so with adequate reliability and validity. Recent studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of the Rorschach Inkblot Method in assessing psychopathy in adult samples, but almost no studies are currently available investigating the Rorschach's ability to assess the condition in younger samples of precisely defined psychopathic groups. In this study, 66 male juvenile offenders, ages 14 to 17, were placed into 3 groups according to level of psychopathy as measured by the youth version of the PCL-R (PCL:YV; Forth, 1995). Nine Rorschach variables conceptually related to various psychopathic features were investigated. Two of the variables (Reflections and Texture Responses) demonstrated statistically significant differences across groups (p < .05). Two additional variables (Vista and White Space) were produced in patterns consistent with existing research, although only to a weak degree. The remaining variables (Egocentricity Index, Form Dimension, Pure Human Content, Inanimate Movement, and Diffuse Shading) did not differ across groups in the predicted directions. Overall, these results offer some support for the validity of the Rorschach as a method of detecting certain psychopathic personality features, including pathological narcissism and interpersonal detachment, in adolescent male offenders.