Use of self-reported psychopathy assessments with older adults: An update on evaluation of their psychometrics for people over 60 years

Katherine J. Holzer, Michael G. Vaughn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Psychometric properties of self-report psychopathy scales have generally been established in samples of people under the age of 40. Personality traits are, however, likely to persist into old age, so it is important to understand the performance of user-friendly self-report psychopathy measures among older people. Aims: The aims of this study were to find out the extent to which self-reported scales developed for rating psychopathy have been used with people of 60 years or older and the extent of any evidence that the psychometric properties of the scales vary with age. Methods: A systematic literature review, with searching limited to PubMed, EBSCOhost, and Google Scholar for the years 1990-2017, of studies of the psychometric properties of five prominent self-report psychopathy scales: the Self-Report Psychopathy Scale, Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scale, Psychopathic Personality Inventory, Triarchic Psychopathy Measure, and the Elemental Psychopathy Assessment according to age of participants. Results: Fourteen studies were found for the years 1990–2017. Age ranges in these samples are wide, with a typical mean age of approximately 30 years. None of these studies focused solely on adults of 60 years or older or attempted to isolate findings by specific age group. Conclusions and Implications for Future Research: Studies of the use of self-rated psychopathy tools remain inconclusive about their psychometrics in older people. Further investigations should follow three main paths: first, deriving samples solely of older adults from the general population—to improve the generalisability of their results; second, item response theory methods should be used to detect differential item functioning between younger and older adults; finally, modifications of extant measures with and without items with potential age-bias should be tested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)460-465
Number of pages6
JournalCriminal Behaviour and Mental Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Dec

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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