Dimensions of impulsivity related to psychopathic traits and homicidal behavior among incarcerated male youth offenders

Psychiatry Res. 2021 Sep:303:114094. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2021.114094. Epub 2021 Jul 7.


Despite impulsivity being included as scoring criteria within several measures of youth psychopathic traits, the relationship between psychopathic traits and dimensions of impulsivity among high-risk youth is not well-understood. Here we assessed psychopathic traits via total, factor, and facet scores from the Psychopathy Checklist: Youth Version (PCL:YV) and impulsivity through total, three-factor, and six-factor model scores from the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11) in incarcerated male youth offenders. Correlational analyses indicated PCL:YV total, Factor 2, Facet 3, and Facet 4 scores were significantly positively correlated with BIS-11 total scores. Additionally, psychopathy scores were significantly positively correlated with specific scores from the three-factor model of the BIS-11 (e.g. Motor and Non-Planning Impulsivity scores) and the six-factor model of the BIS-11 (e.g., Attention, Self-Control, and Cognitive Complexity Impulsivity scores). Secondary analyses suggest that participants who had previously committed homicide scored higher on lifestyle/antisocial psychopathic traits and specific dimensions of impulsivity (e.g., BIS-11 Non-Planning and Self-Control Impulsivity factor scores) compared to youth who had not previously committed homicide. Our results improve our understanding of the specific forms of impulsivity significantly correlated with youth psychopathic traits and how specific factors underlying both constructs potentially characterize youth associated with severe forms of antisocial behavior.

Keywords: Homicide; Impulsivity; Juvenile justice system; Psychopathy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder
  • Criminals*
  • Homicide
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior
  • Male
  • Prisoners*