Hare Psychopathy Checklist - Revised

Explore the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised to evaluate psychopathic traits and behaviors among clients. Download your free PDF here.

By Telita Montales on Jun 03, 2024.

Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

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What is psychopathy?

Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterized by a distinct set of traits related to how someone interacts with others, experiences emotions, and behaves. People with psychopathic tendencies often lack empathy, remorse, and guilt. They may have difficulty forming deep emotional connections and tend to be impulsive and engage in antisocial behavior (Hare & Neumann, 2008).

People with psychopathy may engage in pathological lying, promiscuous sexual behavior, and criminal versatility, displaying a failure to accept responsibility for their own actions.

It's important to note that psychopathy exists on a continuum, and individuals may exhibit varying degrees of psychopathic traits. Not all individuals with psychopathic tendencies engage in criminal behavior, but they may still experience significant difficulties in interpersonal relationships and emotional functioning.

What are psychopathic traits?

Psychopathic traits refer to a specific set of personality characteristics and behavioral patterns commonly associated with the disorder of psychopathy. These traits can be categorized into two main factors: interpersonal and affective traits and antisocial lifestyle and behavior.

Interpersonal and affective traits include the following:

  • Superficial charm and a grandiose sense of self-worth
  • Pathological lying and manipulation
  • Lack of remorse or guilt
  • Shallow or deficient emotional experiences
  • Lack of empathy and concern for others
  • Callousness and a lack of emotional depth

On the other hand, antisocial lifestyle and behavior are characterized by these psychopathic features:

  • Impulsivity and poor behavioral controls
  • Irresponsible and parasitic lifestyle
  • Promiscuous sexual behavior
  • Criminal versatility and a history of juvenile delinquency
  • Early behavioral problems
  • Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
  • Revocation of conditional release or parole

Psychopathy vs. antisocial personality disorder

Psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) are related but distinct concepts. While there is an overlap between the two, they are not identical.

Clinical psychopathy is characterized by a distinct cluster of interpersonal, affective, and behavioral traits. Individuals with psychopathic tendencies often exhibit a grandiose sense of self-worth, violent behavior, poor behavioral controls, shallow affect, and a parasitic lifestyle.

It's important to note that while many individuals with psychopathy may exhibit antisocial tendencies and behavior, not all antisocial individuals are necessarily psychopaths. Psychopathy is a more specific and narrower construct than antisocial personality disorder (Sarkar, et al., 2011).

Antisocial personality disorder is a broader diagnostic category among the personality disorders defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). ASPD is characterized by early behavior problems and a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others, which may include:

  • Failure to conform to social norms and laws
  • Deceitfulness and manipulation
  • Impulsivity and failure to plan ahead
  • Irritability and aggression
  • Disregard for the safety of self and others
  • Irresponsibility and lack of remorse

While ASPD shares some antisocial behaviors and personality traits associated with psychopathy, it is a broader category that may or may not include the full range of interpersonal and affective traits associated with psychopathy.

It's important to note that the diagnosis of ASPD is based on specific criteria outlined in the DSM-5. At the same time, adult psychopathy is typically assessed using psychopathic personality inventory tools like the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R).

Printable Hare Psychopathy Checklist - Revised

Download this Hare Psychopathy Checklist - Revised to assess clients.

What is the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R)?

The Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised is a widely used psychological assessment tool for evaluating psychopathic traits and behaviors. Developed by Dr. Robert D. Hare, a leading expert in the field of psychopathy, the PCL-R is a 20-item rating scale that measures the interpersonal, affective, and behavioral characteristics associated with psychopathy.

The PCL-R is typically administered by trained mental health professionals in forensic settings or research contexts. It involves a semi-structured interview, a review of collateral information (such as institutional records and interviews with family members or acquaintances), and scoring on a three-point scale (0, 1, or 2) for each item (Brazil & Forth, 2016).

The 20 items on the PCL-R are divided into two main factors:

  1. Interpersonal and affective traits: This factor includes items such as superficial charm, grandiose sense of self-worth, pathological lying, lack of remorse or guilt, and shallow affect.
  2. Antisocial lifestyle and behavior: This factor includes items like impulsivity, poor behavioral controls, juvenile delinquency, criminal versatility, and early behavior problems.

How to use the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised

The Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised offers an objective and structured approach to understanding a complex personality disorder. Here's a step-by-step guide to using this tool:

Step 1: Understand the checklist

Before administering the PCL-R, it is essential to familiarize yourself with its structure and guidelines. Comprising 20 items, each rated on a three-point scale, the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised provides a comprehensive framework for assessing psychopathy.

Step 2: Conduct the assessment

The environment in which the assessment is administered must be controlled and conducive to honest responses. Make sure that the subject feels at ease and willing to participate. Explain the process clearly to encourage cooperation.

Step 3: Analyze the results

Upon completing the assessment, carefully interpret the scores using the provided guidelines. Then, a proper statistical analysis of the PCL-R assessment results, correlated factors, and other information sources on the client will be conducted.

Step 4: Make informed decisions

The findings from the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised should be used to guide further clinical or legal actions, depending on the context. Whether it informs a treatment plan or assists in legal proceedings, the results should be thoughtfully and ethically integrated into decision-making.

Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised example (sample)

The Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised is an essential and specific tool to investigate a person's psychopathic tendencies.

This example of a Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised PDF illustrates how clients can accomplish this tool and can serve as a guide as you guide them in using this resource. If this is helpful for your practice, feel free to check out a preview online or download this sample template. Click on the link below!

Download this Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised example (sample)

Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised example (sample)

Scoring and interpretation

The PCL-R is a 20-item rating scale, with each item scored on a three-point scale (0, 1, or 2) based on the degree to which the individual exhibits the particular trait or behavior. The total score ranges from 0 to 40, with higher scores indicating a greater presence of psychopathic traits.

In general, a score of 30 or above on the PCL-R is considered indicative of a high level of psychopathic traits. However, it's important to note that the PCL-R is not a diagnostic tool but rather a measure of psychopathic traits on a continuum (Brazil & Forth, 2016).

The PCL-R scores should be interpreted within the context of the individual's background, history, and current circumstances. It's crucial to consider the scores in conjunction with other relevant information, such as collateral data, clinical observations, and risk assessment measures.

References

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Pearson.

Brazil, K. J., & Forth, A. E. (2016). Hare Psychopathy Checklist. In V. Zeigler-Hill & T. K. Shackelford (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences. Springer.

Hare, R. D., & Neumann, C. S. (2008). Psychopathy as a clinical and empirical construct. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 4, 217–246. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.clinpsy.3.022806.091452

Sarkar, S., Clark, B. S., & Deeley, Q. (2011). Differences between psychopathy and other personality disorders: evidence from neuroimaging. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 17(3), 191–200. doi:10.1192/apt.bp.107.004747

What are the symptoms of psychopathy?
What are the symptoms of psychopathy?

Commonly asked questions

What are the symptoms of psychopathy?

The key symptoms of psychopathy include a lack of empathy and remorse, shallow emotions, impulsivity, irresponsibility, pathological lying, manipulation, and a disregard for the rights and feelings of others. Individuals with psychopathic traits often exhibit antisocial behavior, criminal versatility, and a parasitic lifestyle. However, not all individuals with psychopathic tendencies engage in criminal activities.

What triggers a psychopath?

Psychopaths are not typically "triggered" in the same way as those with other mental health conditions. Their lack of empathy, remorse, and emotional depth is a core part of their personality disorder. However, certain situations or perceived slights may prompt them to react with aggression, manipulation, or other antisocial behaviors in pursuit of their own interests or gratification.

Is the Hare Psychopathy Checklist still used?

Yes, the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) is still widely used as a psychological assessment tool for measuring psychopathic traits and behaviors. It is considered one of the leading instruments internationally for the assessment of psychopathy. It is used in various settings, including institutional, detention, and community correctional facilities, forensic psychiatric hospitals, and pre-trial evaluations.

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