Psychological and behavioral adjustment in female youths with high or low psychopathic traits.


The aim of the present study was to analyze the role of psychopathic traits in female juvenile delinquency. Using a sample of 236 young females from the Juvenile Detention Centers of the Portuguese Ministry of Justice and schools in the Lisbon area, a group of female youths with high psychopathic traits (n = 118; M = 15.84years of age; range=14-18 years of age) and a group of female youths with low psychopathic traits (n = 118; M = 15.77 years of age; range = 14-18 years of age) were formed based on the Portuguese version of the Antisocial Process Screening Device-Self-report (APSD-SR). The results showed that young females with high psychopathic traits start engaging in criminal activities and come into contact with the justice system earlier in life; exhibit higher levels of behavioral problems, conduct disorder, delinquent behaviors and serious criminality; and demonstrate lower levels of self-esteem and pro-social behavior. The importance of some variables in predicting group membership (high versus low psychopathic traits) was established through a binary logistic regression. Our findings reinforce the importance of the psychopathy construct for the early identification of potentially high-risk female youths and for the assessment of female youths who have already come into contact with the judicial system.