Objective: To use cluster analysis to identify psychological profiles and related mental health symptoms among male and female juvenile offenders.
Method: Juvenile offenders (N = 141) incarcerated in the California Youth Authority completed the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) and the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument-Version 2 (MAYSI-2).
Results: MMPI cluster analysis revealed four distinct profiles: two for male and two for female juvenile offenders. Among males, we identified one Normative cluster with no clinically elevated scores. A second male cluster, labeled Disorganized, exhibited clinical elevations on scales 8 (Schizophrenia), 6 (Paranoia), 4 (Psychopathic Deviate), and 7 (Psychasthenia). Among females, two clinically elevated profiles emerged. One Impulsive-Antisocial cluster consisted of clinical elevations on scale 4 (Psychopathic Deviate), which has been consistently associated with delinquent and antisocial behavior. The second cluster, labeled Irritable-Isolated, produced elevations on MMPI scales 4 (Psychopathic Deviate), 8 (Schizophrenia), 6 (Paranoia), and 7 (Psychasthenia). There were no significant sex, ethnicity, or offense differences across clusters, but the clusters exhibit distinct psychiatric profiles (MMPI) and mental health symptoms (MAYSI-2).
Conclusions: The findings indicate that not only do female offenders have more acute mental health symptoms and psychological disturbances than male offenders, they exhibit qualitatively distinct psychiatric profiles. Results reinforce the need for assessment of mental health symptoms for male and female juvenile offenders as well as sex-appropriate treatments.