Psychopathy and deception: do psychopathic personality traits moderate the ability to avoid detection of dissimulation?

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University of Alabama Libraries

Individuals high on psychopathic personality traits (e.g., callousness, impulsivity, grandiosity) are likely to commit a high degree of criminal infractions, especially those of a violent nature. When undergoing a forensic evaluation, these individuals may be motivated to present themselves in an overly positive or negative light in order to obtain a favorable verdict or sentence. Many personality inventories, such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory - 2 - Restructured Form (MMPI-2-RF; Ben-Porath & Tellgen, 2008), contain validity scales which are designed to detect such response bias. Study 1 of the current investigation sought to determine whether psychopathy moderates the utility of the MMPI-2-RF's over-reporting (F-r, F_p -r) and under-reporting (L-r, and K-r) validity scales in differentiating between individuals asked to feign good, feign bad, or respond honestly. Study 2 replicated the over-reporting (F-r and F_p -r) analyses in a forensic pre-trial sample, in which individuals were classified as malingering or not malingering using the Structured Interview of Reported Symptoms (SIRS; Rogers et al., 1992). Combined results for the over-reporting analyses indicated that psychopathy did not moderate the utility of the MMPI-2-RF's validity scales in differentiating between honest responders and those feigning symptoms of psychopathology. The under-reporting analyses indicated no moderating effects for L-r; however, the "meanness" factor of psychopathy moderated the utility of K-r in detecting those feigning psychological adjustment, such that K-r was better able to detect individuals high on rather than low on psychopathy when under-reporting. Implications of these results, as well as future directions, are discussed.

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Clinical psychology