Self-rated psychopathic traits in a sample of treatment-seeking adolescent girls with internalizing and externalizing disorders: comparisons to girls in the community

Nord J Psychiatry. 2017 Apr;71(3):210-216. doi: 10.1080/08039488.2016.1265583. Epub 2016 Dec 13.


Background: Psychopathy research has thus far focused mostly on child, male, and delinquent samples, but the results are most likely non-generalizable to adolescent girls with mental health disorders.

Aim: The present study aimed to compare self-rated psychopathic traits between female psychiatric outpatients and girls in the community, and to investigate how psychopathic traits relate to psychiatric disorders.

Method: The outpatient sample comprised 163 girls aged 15-17-years recruited from municipal mental health services. Psychiatric diagnoses were assessed based on the ICD-10 classification. The community sample comprised 355 girls from secondary, vocational, and high schools. The Youth Psychopathic trait Inventory (YPI) served as a self-assessment tool.

Results: Treatment-seeking girls exhibit a more impulsive and irresponsible lifestyle than do girls in the community. Girls with externalizing psychopathology, unlike those with an internalizing disorder, exhibit more deficient affective experience than do girls in the community. Psychopathic traits associate with having a psychiatric disorder, a depressive disorder, ADHD, and a conduct disorder.

Conclusions: The psychiatric examination of treatment-seeking adolescent girls would likely benefit from screening for psychopathy and its underlying components.

Keywords: Externalizing disorders; girls; internalizing disorders; out-patients; psychopathic traits.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / epidemiology
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Conduct Disorder / epidemiology
  • Conduct Disorder / physiopathology
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / physiopathology
  • Diagnostic Self Evaluation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care