Prevalence of psychopathic traits in a large sample of Polish adolescents from rural and urban areas

Lidia Perenc 1,  
Faculty of Medicine, University of Rzeszow, Poland
Faculty of Education, University of Rzeszow, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med 2016;23(2):368–372
The primary aim of the study was to assess the prevalence of psychopathic traits in a large sample of Polish adolescents representing both the rural and urban social milieu. An additional aim was to compare the results with similar studies conducted in other countries.

Material and Methods:
The study was conducted on a sample of 9,415 secondary school students (4,808 boys, 4,607 girls) aged 13 – 16. Psychopathic traits were measured by teacher-report ratings with the Antisocial Process Screening Device scale (APSD).

Results and conclusions:
Only a marginal part of the Polish adolescents demonstrated clinically significant symptoms of psychopathic disorder (N=253; 2.68%). There was a statistically significant difference between subjects from the rural (2.12%) and urban (3.45%) social milieu. Respective comparison showed that Polish youngsters scored much lower on total psychopathy scores than Chinese (Hong Kong) and American adolescents. The authors encourage replication of this research in other East European countries.

1. Cooke D, Mitchie C. Refining the construct of psychopathy: towards a hierarchical model. Psychol Assessment. 2001; 13: 171–188.
2. Hare RD. Without conscience: the disturbing world of the psychopaths among us. New York, Guilford, 2003.
3. Petrunik M, Weisman R. Constructing Joseph Fredricks: Competing narratives of a child sex murderer. Int J Law Psychiat. 2005; 28: 75–96.
4. Blair RJR. The emergence of psychopathy: Implications for the neuropsychological approach to developmental disorders. Cognition 2006; 101: 414–442.
5. Hare RD. The Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised. Multi Health Systems, Toronto, 2001.
6. Seagrave D, Grisso T. Adolescent development and the measurement of juvenile psychopathy. Law Hum Behav. 2002; 26:219–239.
7. Forth AE, Burke HC. Psychopathy in adolescence: assessment, violence and developmental precursors. In Psychopathy: Theory, Research and Implications for Society (eds D. Cooke, A. Forth & R. Hare), pp. 205–230. Kluwer: Dordrecht, 1998.
8. Brandt JR et al. Assessment of psychopathy in a population of incarcerated adolescent offenders. Psychol Assessment 1997; 9: 429–435.
9. Hare RD. Psychopathy, affect and behavior. In: Cooke D, Forth A, Hare R. Psychopathy: Theory, Research and Implications for Society, pp. 105–139. Kluwer, Dordrecht, 1998.
10. Coid J, Yang M, Ullrich S, Roberts A, Hare RD. Prevalence and correlates of psychopathic traits in the household population of Great Britain. Int J Law Psychiatr. 2009; 32, 2: 65–73.
11. Frick PJ, Hare RD. The Antisocial Process Screening Device (APSD). Multi-Health Systems, Toronto, 2001.
12. Fung MT, Raine A, Loeber R, et al. Reduced electrodermal activity in psychopathy-prone adolescents. J Abn Psychol. 2005; 114: 187–196.
13. Johnstone L, Cooke DJ. Psychopathic-like traits in childhood: Conceptual and measurement concerns. Behav Sci Law 2004; 22:103–125.
14. Barry CT, Frick PJ, Grooms T, McCoy MG, Ellis ML, Loney BR. The importance of callous-unemotional traits for extending the concept of psychopathy to children. J Abnorm Psychol. 2000; 109: 335–340.
15. Munõz LC, Frick PJ. The reliability, stability, and predictive utility of the self-report version of the antisocial process screening device. Scand J Psychol. 2007; 48: 299–312.
16. Kotler JS, McMahon RJ. Child psychopathy: theories, measurement, and relations with the development and persistence of conduct problems. Clin Child Family Psychol Rev. 2005; 8(4): 291–325.
17. Sharp C, Kine S. The assessment of juvenile psychopathy: strengths and weaknesses of currently used questionnaire measures. Child Adolesc Ment Health 2008; 13(2): 85–95.
18. Marsh A, Finger E, Mitchell D, Ried M, Sims C, Kosson D et al. Reduced amygdala response to fearful expressions in children and adolescents with callous-unemotional traits and disruptive behavior disorders. Am J Psychiatry 2008; 165: 712–720.
19. Budhani S, Blair R. Response reversal and children with psychopathic tendencies: Success is a function of salience of contingency change. J Child Psychol Psychiatr. 2005; 46: 972–981.
20. Vitale JE, Newman JP, Bates JE, Goodnight J, Dodge K, Pettit G. Deficient behavioural inhibition and anomalous selective attention in a community sample of adolescents with psychopathic traits and low-anxiety traits. J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2005; 33:461–470.
21. Brislin RW. Back-translation for cross-cultural research. J Cross Cult Psychol. 1970; 1: 185–216.
22. Perenc L, Radochoński M. Psychopathic traits and reactive-proactive aggression in a large community sample of Polish adolescents. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev. 2013; DOI 10.1007/s10578–013–0432–4 (published on-line; open access).
23. Fung AL, Gao Y, Raine A. The utility of the child and adolescent psychopathy construct in Hong Kong, China. J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2010; 39(1):134–140.
24. Tsai JL, Levenson RW. Cultural influences on emotional responding: Chinese American and European American dating couples during interpersonal conflict. J Cross Cult Psychol. 1997; 28: 600–625.
25. Salekin R. Psychopathy and therapeutic pessimism: Clinical lore or clinical reality? Clin Psychol Rev. 2002; 22: 79–112.