Psychopathy is a mental condition that may include symptoms such as an inability to feel guilt or empathy for others, and it can sometimes contribute to criminal activities. Using the Hare Psychopathy Checklist is one way that psychopathic tendencies can be detected, particularly among individuals in incarcerated populations. When administered by a professional, this checklist's results may have serious consequences, such as assisting a judge in determining the nature and length of an offender's rehabilitation during sentencing. It was created with the intention to only be administered by a medical or psychiatric professional with a working knowledge of psychopathy.
Usually, the Hare Psychopathy Checklist is used in clinical or judicial settings, to evaluate the personality of criminal offenders or individuals in mental health treatment settings. Evidence shows that juveniles may be investigated with the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised, as well. In terms of providing an actual clinical diagnosis, the scores on this checklist most closely correspond to antisocial personality disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition. Many times, the checklist may be administered to serve as a predictor of violent behavior.
The Hare Psychopathy Checklist, in its most recent form, called the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised, consists of twenty questions, each related to various aspects of psychopathy. Additionally, the items are divided into two general categories, or factors, pertaining to the individual's personality and lifestyle. Some of the items, however, do not relate to either factor, and pertain to sexual, marital, and criminal history. An interview format is used to provide the checklist, and the interviewer may score each item on a scale of zero to two. Zeroes indicate that the individual does not display traits related to the item, a one is used when the item applies somewhat to an individual, and a two is used when the item nearly always applies.
Among psychopathic individuals, a narcissistic personality can often be found. Items on the checklist that probe for narcissism relate to specific personality traits that are indicative of this nature. Lying, manipulation, and an inability to feel remorse may be among the traits that are tested for.
Often, evaluating an individual's personal history, or lifestyle, may help in determining whether the person shows evidence of psychopathy. The Hare Psychopathy Checklist, therefore, contains several items that investigate the lifestyle of the interviewee. Some of these items look at whether an individual feels the need for constant stimulation to avoid boredom, whether they were involved in criminal behavior as a child, or whether they have difficulties in setting and attaining feasible life goals.