Featured Published Manuscript of the Month:                November 2018


Chosen and summarized by:                            Megan Kopkin, MA (The University of Alabama)


Anderson, J. R., Walsh, Z., & Kosson, D. S. (2018). Psychopathy, self-identified race/ethnicity, and nonviolent recidivism: A longitudinal study. Law and Human Behavior. doi:10.1037/lhb0000302


Corresponding Author:  John R. Anderson ([email protected]) Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine



This featured study investigated the predictive validity of psychopathy for nonviolent and general recidivism using the PCL-R. Anderson, Walsh, and Kosson (2018) also examined whether PCL-R Factor 1 and PCL-R Factor 2 scores differentially predicted recidivism and whether predictive validity varied among race/ethnic groups. The study sample consisted of 422 county jail inmates (163 European American offenders, 172 African American offenders, and 87 Latino American offenders).


Key Findings


·          Although effect sizes were small in magnitude, psychopathy was a valid predictor of both nonviolent and general recidivism. Each increase in PCL-R scores was associated with a 2% increase in likelihood of being arrested, even among offenders with few psychopathic traits. For example, an offender with a PCL-R total score of 15 would be 20% more likely to recidivate than an offender who obtained a score of 5. 


·          Both PCL-R Factor 1 and PCL-R Factor 2 scores were modestly predictive of nonviolent recidivism in the full sample; neither factor demonstrated better predictive validity than the other.


·         While psychopathy was predictive of nonviolent recidivism in European American and African American offenders, psychopathy was not predictive of nonviolent recidivism in Latino American offenders. These findings were maintained when controlling for socioeconomic status.


Key Implications:


·         Study results demonstrate the utility of the PCL-R in predicting both violent and nonviolent recidivism.


·         Study results suggest that, although psychopathy was not a significant predictor of nonviolent recidivism among Latino Americans, race/ethnicity does not moderate the ability of psychopathy (as measured by the PCL-R) to predict nonviolent or general recidivism.


·          Future research addressing the predictive validity of the PCL-R in regard to nonviolent and general recidivism should address whether the strength of the relationship is moderated by relatively under studied ethnic groups, such as Asian Americans and Native Americans.