Examining the factor structure and validity of the Triarchic Model of Psychopathy across measures

Personal Disord. 2021 Mar;12(2):115-126. doi: 10.1037/per0000394. Epub 2020 Feb 27.


The triarchic model of psychopathy proposes 3 distinct trait domains underlying psychopathy: boldness, meanness, and disinhibition. The original (and most widely used) measure developed from this model is the Triarchic Psychopathy Measure (TriPM), which yields a total psychopathy score as well as scores on each of the 3 domains. Recently, researchers have derived several alternative measures from other inventories to assess these 3 domains; however, the purported underlying 3-factor structure of the alternative scales has been relatively untested. In the present study, 431 participants completed the TriPM and its alternative measures via Amazon Mechanical Turk, and items within the scales were subjected to a series of factor analyses. For all measures, fit indices for a 3-factor solution showed poor fit and indicated that the optimal factor solutions ranged between 5 and 7 factors. In addition, although some of the factor scores from the 3-factor solutions appeared to map onto the a priori domains of boldness, meanness, and disinhibition, others were equally correlated with meanness and disinhibition. The current results demonstrate the factor structures of the TriPM and its alternative measures are more complex than the proffered 3-factor solution, which calls into question the extent to which these adequately represent the underlying triarchic model. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Antisocial Personality Disorder*
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Humans
  • Problem Behavior*