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Reliability and validity of the psychopathy checklist-revised in the assessment of risk for institutional violence: a cautionary note on DeMatteo et al. (2020)

Olver, Mark, Stockdale, Keira, Hare, Robert, Mokros, Andrea, Baskin-Sommers, Arielle, Brand, Eddy, Folino, Jorge, Gacono, Carl, Gray, Nicola, Kiehl, Kent, Knight, Raymond, Leon-Mayer, Elizabeth, Logan, Matt, Reid-Maloy, J., Roy, Sandeep, Salekin, Randy T., Snowden, Robert ORCID:, Thomson, Nicholas, Tillem, Scott, Vittaco, Michael and Yoon, D. 2020. Reliability and validity of the psychopathy checklist-revised in the assessment of risk for institutional violence: a cautionary note on DeMatteo et al. (2020). Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 26 (4) , pp. 490-510. 10.1037/law0000256

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A group of 12 authors (GA) shared a statement of concern (SoC) warning against the use of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R; Hare, 1991, 2003) to assess risk for serious institutional violence in US capital sentencing cases (DeMatteo et al., 2020). Notably, the SoC was not confined to capital sentencing issues, but included institutional violence in general. Central to the arguments presented in the SoC was that the PCL-R has poor predictive validity for institutional violence and also inadequate field reliability. The GA also identified important issues about the fallibility and inappropriate use of any clinical/forensic assessments, questionable evaluator qualifications, and their effects on capital sentencing decisions. However, as a group of forensic academics, researchers, and clinicians, we are concerned that the PCL-R represents a psycholegal red herring, while the SoC did not address critical legislative, systemic, and evaluator/rating issues that affect all risk assessment tools. We contend that the SoC’s literature review was selective and that the resultant opinions about potential uses and misuses of the PCL-R were ultimately misleading. We focus our response on the evidence and conclusions proffered by the GA concerning the use of the PCL-R in capital and other cases. We provide new empirical findings regarding the PCL-R’s predictive validity and field reliability to further demonstrate its relevance for institutional violence risk assessment and management. We further demonstrate why the argument that group data cannot be relevant for single-case assessments is erroneous. Recommendations to support the ethical and appropriate use of the PCL-R for risk assessment are provided.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: American Psychological Association
ISSN: 1076-8971
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 29 April 2020
Date of Acceptance: 27 April 2020
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2022 05:24

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