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21-03-2019 | Uitgave 3/2019

Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment 3/2019

Psychopathic Traits in Middle Childhood: Evidence of a Hierarchical Three-Factor Structure

Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment > Uitgave 3/2019
Hillary M. Gorin, David S. Kosson, Steven A. Miller, Nathalie M. G. Fontaine, Frank Vitaro, Jean R. Séguin, Michel Boivin, Sylvana Côté, Richard E. Tremblay
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10862-019-09733-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Although the development of psychopathy is not well understood, prior studies suggest that psychopathic traits begin to develop in childhood. Whereas research suggests consistency in the structure and correlates of psychopathic traits as assessed with clinical measures of psychopathic traits in adolescence and in adulthood, there is less agreement about the nature of psychopathic traits earlier in childhood. This study was designed to enhance understanding of the nature of psychopathic traits in youth by: 1) examining the fit of one, two, three, and four factor models of psychopathic traits during middle childhood, and 2) examining the stability of the factor structure of psychopathic traits over time through invariance testing. The participants were youth in the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development (QLSCD) whose teachers provided ratings on 17 items associated with four validated dimensions of psychopathy at six (N = 605), seven (N = 747) and eight years of age (N = 686). Confirmatory factor analyses revealed that a hierarchical three-factor model of psychopathic traits, consisting of interpersonal, affective, and lifestyle/ antisocial components provided the best fit to the data at all three ages. Analyses also demonstrated strong invariance across these ages. These findings provide preliminary evidence that the internal structure for a syndrome of psychopathic traits in middle childhood is somewhat similar but slightly less differentiated than the factor structure identified during adolescence. Current findings also suggest that this internal structure is stable over a three-year period during middle childhood.

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