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Aggressive behavior and measurement of psychopathy in female inmates of German prisons — A preliminary study

Anja Lehmann & Angela Ittel

International Journal of Law and Psychiatry. Volume 35, Issue 3, May–June 2012, Pages 190–197.



Studies concerning inmate psychopathy (as measured by Psychopathy-Checklist-Revised, PCL-R; Hare, 1991) have predominantly been concerned with male inmates. This study was the first to look into psychopathy using the PCL-R with the whole required procedure in German prisons with female inmates. The aims of the present study were to gain data about the prevalence of psychopathy in this sample and to examine potential relations between the types and motive of aggression, prosocial behavior and scores on the PCL-R. Sixty female inmates were examined.


We obtained a prevalence rate of psychopathy of 17% (N = 10, with a cut-off score of 25). Considering a wide range of subtypes of aggressive behaviors, we found that physical proactive, and relational reactive aggression as well as age predicted high scores of psychopathy. However, prosocial or helping behavior was not associated with psychopathy. Implications for diagnostic issues in forensics concerning female prisoners are discussed.



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