Date of Award

7-24-2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Committee Chair

Michelle R. Guyton, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Adam Furchner, Ph.D.

Abstract

The personality disturbance of psychopathy is one of the most researched and debated conditions in psychopathology and has been considered one of the most important constructs in the criminal justice system. This syndrome has been widely examined in males but remarkably less attention has been given to females, even though contemporary researchers and theorists have suggested that there is a different expression of psychopathy based on gender. The current study utilized the Rorschach Inkblot Method and the Psychopathic Personality Inventory-Revised (PPI-R) to explore the personality characteristics of 77 incarcerated females. Participants were imprisoned for a variety of offenses and were recruited from a medium-security state prison. The level of psychopathy, as determined by the PPI-R, was compared to a select number of Rorschach variables that measure self-perception and interpersonal functioning. In addition, a Rorschach composite score of the variables used in the study was created with the aim of developing a profile for psychopathic females. The association between psychopathy and these variables was investigated using Pearson correlations and hierarchical regression analyses. Results partially confirmed the hypotheses of the study in that certain, but not all, hypothesized Rorschach variables were related to level of psychopathy. In general, results suggested that females do not display disturbance in self-perception and instead demonstrated evidence of psychological mindedness. Most results regarding interpersonal relationships were consistent with prior research findings that psychopathic females are more interpersonally-oriented and seek out attention from others, but also experience dysfunction in their interactions. As a whole, results provided some additional support to the growing notion that psychopathic females have a histrionic/hysteric personality organization, as opposed to the grandiose, narcissistic personality structure of their male counterparts. Explanations for and implications of these results were discussed, and directions for further research were explored.

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