Is Female Psychopathy Linked with Child Abuse? An Empirical Investigation using a Person-Centered Approach

Daniel Boduszek, Agata Debowska, Dominic Willmott, Adele D Jones, Matthew DeLisi, Gillian Kirkman
Journal of Child Sexual Abuse 2019 March 25, : 1-18
Childhood abuse is associated with increased psychopathic features among girls, but most prior research is based on data from correctional samples of female delinquents and less is known about how specific forms of childhood abuse affect specific features of psychopathy. Using a school-based community sample of 696 girls aged 9-17 years from Barbados and Grenada, the current study examined latent profiles of psychopathic personality traits and their associations with physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Latent profile analysis (LPA) revealed four distinct psychopathy groups among girls, including a 'low psychopathy' group (41.9% of girls), 'high psychopathy' group (4.8%), 'high interpersonal manipulation and egocentricity' group (37.4%), and a 'moderate psychopathy' group (16%). There was considerable evidence of physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse among participants. Sexual abuse was associated with a 116% increased likelihood of membership in the high psychopathy group and a 57% increased likelihood of membership in the high interpersonal manipulation and egocentricity group. These results indicate that sexual abuse is a powerful distal factor in the development of psychopathic personality functioning, especially more severe variants.

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