Construct Validity of the MMPI–2–RF Triarchic Psychopathy Scales in Correctional and Collegiate Samples

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Dustin Wygant ORCID iD icon



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This study examined the MMPI–2–RF (Ben-Porath & Tellegen, 2008/2011) Triarchic Psychopathy scales recently developed by Sellbom et al. (2016 Sellbom, M., Drislane, L. E., Johnson, A. K., Goodwin, B. E., Phillips, T. R., & Patrick, C. J. (2016). Development and validation of MMPI–2–RF scales for indexing triarchic psychopathy constructs. Assessment, 23, 527–543.[Web of Science ®]) in 3 separate groups of male correctional inmates and 2 college samples. Participants were administered a diverse battery of psychopathy specific measures (e.g., Psychopathy Checklist–Revised [Hare, 2003 Hare, R. D. (2003). The Hare Psychopathy Checklist–Revised (2nd ed.). Toronto, Canada: Multi-Health Systems.], Psychopathic Personality Inventory–Revised [Lilienfeld & Widows, 2005 Lilienfeld, S. O., & Widows, M. R. (2005). Psychopathic Personality Inventory–Revised: Professional manual. Lutz, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.], Triarchic Psychopathy Measure [Patrick, 2010 Patrick, C. J. (2010). Operationalizing the triarchic conceptualization of psychopathy: Preliminary description of brief scales for assessment of boldness, meanness, and disinhibition. Unpublished test manual, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL.]), omnibus personality and psychopathology measures such as the Personality Assessment Inventory (Morey, 2007 Morey, L. C. (2007). Personality Assessment Inventory professional manual (2nd ed.). Lutz, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.) and Personality Inventory for DSM–5 (Krueger, Derringer, Markon, Watson, & Skodol, 2012 Krueger, R. F., Derringer, J., Markon, K. E., Watson, D., & Skodol, A. E. (2012). Initial construction of a maladaptive personality trait model and inventory for DSM–5. Psychological Medicine, 42, 1879–1890.[CrossRef], [PubMed], [Web of Science ®]), and narrow-band measures that capture conceptually relevant constructs. Our results generally evidenced strong support for the convergent and discriminant validity for the MMPI–2–RF Triarchic scales. Boldness was largely associated with measures of fearless dominance, social potency, and stress immunity. Meanness showed strong relationships with measures of callousness, aggression, externalizing tendencies, and poor interpersonal functioning. Disinhibition exhibited strong associations with poor impulse control, stimulus seeking, and general externalizing proclivities. Our results provide additional construct validation to both the triarchic model and MMPI–2–RF Triarchic scales. Given the widespread use of the MMPI–2–RF in correctional and forensic settings, our results have important implications for clinical assessment in these 2 areas, where psychopathy is a highly relevant construct.

Journal Title

Journal of Personality Assessment