Psychosocial maturity and psychopathy in male juvenile offenders: An examination of Kegan's theory of developmental delay and the role of temperament and age as moderators

Vivian Pan, Fordham University

Abstract

The current study examined one of the developmental theories of juvenile psychopathy, Kegan's theory of developmental delay, by investigating the relationship between psychosocial maturity, using the constructs of perspective taking and moral judgment, and psychopathy in male adolescent offenders. The moderating roles of age, and temperamental factors of negative affect and effortful control, between this relationship was also examined. ^ The findings showed a significant, moderate, negative correlation between perspective and psychopathy. Temperament had a moderating effect on the relationship between perspective taking and psychopathy, with youth high on effortful control and low on negative affect showed stronger relationships between perspective taking and psychopathy. This suggests that cognitive and affective temperament factors may serve as risk or protective factors against psychopathy. However, there was not a significant relationship between moral judgment and psychopathy. This may be due to a lack of any genuine relationship, or it may reflect the quality of the moral judgment measure. The MJT-R did not have a significant correlation with social desirability, unlike all other study variables, and its reliability was unable to be assessed due to the manner in which the measure was constructed. The analyses also did not show a moderating effect for age, which would have provided further support for Kegan's theory. Taken together, results provide limited support for Kegan's theory of developmental delay. ^ Future studies may benefit from the use of objective measures, such as the PCL:YV (Forth et al., 2003) to assess psychopathy or the Early Adolescent Temperament Questionnaire—Parent Report (Ellis & Rothbart, 2001) to assess temperament, as well as the use of collateral information. All measures in the current study were self-report measures, and psychopathic traits such as pathological lying and manipulation make the use of self-report with this population a particular concern. Social desirability was controlled for in all statistical analyses in the current study; nevertheless, it is quite possible that social desirability played a significant role in the associations and effects observed. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Clinical|Sociology, Criminology and Penology

Recommended Citation

Vivian Pan, "Psychosocial maturity and psychopathy in male juvenile offenders: An examination of Kegan's theory of developmental delay and the role of temperament and age as moderators" (January 1, 2009). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3384645.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3384645

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