The Hare Psychopathy Rating Scale

Thinking of the concept of “psychopath”, for most people the image of a murderer comes to mind, Someone who kills for pleasure and acts obeys only his own interests, without a trace of empathy and disregarding the needs, feelings and desires of those around him (which he also uses as objects to achieve his goals. ends). This image looks very clear … but detecting these characteristics is not that easy in real life.

Until relatively recently, no tool was developed to accurately measure this disorder, distinguishing it from mental and medical pathologies. In this sense, one of the main contributions to the detection and evaluation of psychopathic characteristics is that of Hare, who created Hare Psychopathy Rating Scale or PCL (Psychopathy Checklist).

    Psychopathy: what are we talking about?

    To understand the Hare Psychopathy Rating Scale, one will first need to adjust the definition of what we mean by psychopathy.

    The concept of psychopathy refers to a personality disorder in which there is a more or less complete absence of empathy and concern for the other and a deep focus on oneself and one’s own needs. It is not considered a clinical entity, i.e. it is not a mental disorder. And can the definition of this construct vary widely depending on which authors express it and what type of psychopathy we are talking about (in fact, there could be many different types of psychopaths reaching out to some authors to come up with it all). ‘at nine).

    If the image most people have of them is the one mentioned in the introduction, the truth is that not all are criminals or commit crimes: There are psychopaths embedded in society and in fact in many cases they become political leaders (some of whom have come to commit great abuses) or great businessmen.

    however, there are a number of characteristics common to most psychopaths: The most determining and determining is the inability to develop emotional relationships, the lack of empathy and indifference to the feelings of others. In addition to this, it is common, the use of others to achieve their ends, the absence of guilt and a sense of responsibility for their own actions, the low intensity of most of their emotions, arrogance and Self-centeredness, the ability to seduce and superficial relationships in which the other is not valued and manipulation are generally some of the most common characteristics.

    There are also ** problems planning or evaluating the future or the consequences of one’s actions **, the need to seek sensations, impulsivity, the discrepancy between language and behavior, and the need of immediate gratification.

      What are its causes?

      It is important to note that technically psychopathy is not considered a mental disorder. This is a condition of unknown cause but in which strong genetic components were detected (for example, it is common in the study of twins to observe that both have psychopathic traits), although at least half the variance per hour of suffering or not of this alteration is linked to environmental factors.

      Some biological and temperamental differences have been observed that complicate socialization processes during growth, not integrating primary socialization experiences adaptively. They are people who are aware of their actions, Not presenting alterations of the volitional capacity and in which there is no affectation of the basic cognitive functions (beyond the emotional sphere).

      PCL: The Hare Psychopathy Rating Scale

      Psychopathy ChecklistThe PCL or Hare Psychopathy Rating Scale is one of the most widely used assessment tools to assess the existence of psychopathy.

      Born and based on the grouping of factors and criteria already proposed previously by Cleckley, it is a scale created by Hare which rate across 20 items (Although they were originally 22 years old), the main personality traits and characteristics of people with psychopathy.

      It is a scale that must be completed according to the information obtained during the semi-structured interview with the subject, the observation and analysis of his behavior, the interviews with his environment and the knowledge obtained from his expedient. The actual interview can take about two hours, although this depends on each case. Each item is denoted with a 0, 1, or 2 seconds if the document in question cannot be applied to subject (0), can be applied in a certain sense (1), or can be applied to subject as something consistent in its conduct (2). The maximum score is 40 and the existence of psychopathy is considered as those cases that exceed 30 points (although this should be contrasted with interviews in their environment and checking for other possible interviews and events related to the subject. Scores over 25 are considered predictors of antisocial and violent behavior.

      It is important to note that this is an instrument created on the basis of the prison population, in clinical and forensic practice. It has been shown to be useful in predicting the likelihood of recidivism, assessing possible breaches of sentence, and predicting behavioral conduct. antisocial.

      What is valued? Element scale

      As we have seen, in the PCL (in its revised version) or the Psychopathy Rating Scale created by Hare, we find a total of 20 items that attempt to assess the existence of different characteristics of the psychopathy. Specifically, the following items or items are evaluated.

      1. Superficial charm / loquacity

      One of the most common characteristics of psychopaths is their ease of treatment and superficial attractiveness, often be very attractive. They are considered to be fun and entertaining and seem to master many topics and topics of conversation.

      2. Self-centeredness and a sense of greatness

      The psychopath tends to have an overestimated view of himself, with great self-confidence and with a self-centered attitude. He also tends to see only his own outlook and to focus on his own needs. He can feel admired and envied.

        3. Search for sensations

        Another common characteristic of people with psychopathy is the tendency to get bored easily and look for activities that stimulate them, Seeking action, competition and opportunity.

        4. Pathological lie

        Lying and cheating are common elements in the behavior of the psychopath. He can create easily believable stories and usually doesn’t worry about being discovered. It’s not hard for him to break his promises.

        5. Handling

        Psychopaths generally tend to be manipulative, using their skills and seductive abilities to help others reach and achieve their goals, frequently. regardless of the effects on the manipulated person.

        6. Absence of guilt

        Aspect linked to a lack of empathy, the psychopath tends not to feel guilty about what is happening around him, as well as the consequences of his actions.

        7. Emotional superficiality

        Many psychopaths are known to show a flat emotional spectrum, without showing great reactions and resulting in their often superficial and even acted emotional expression. Yes, they can experience emotions, but they are generally considered low-intensity and superficial.

        8. Lack of empathy

        One of the most basic characteristics of psychopaths is their lack of empathy. The psychopathic subject is generally unable to put himself in other people’s shoes, Or not valuing what others may feel or want. In addition to the great maneuverability they usually have, they often use others just to achieve their ends.

        9. Parasitic lifestyle

        This criterion means that many psychopaths use their loved ones and their surroundings in a utilitarian way to survive without having to put in the effort, unless work is a motivation that allows them to stand out and be number u.

        10. Lack of self-control

        People with a psychopathic personality may not have a deep emotionality, however their immediate behavioral reactions may be extreme. The use of violence can be one, briefly and usually without provoking a subsequent reaction.

        11. Promiscuity

        The high level of eloquence and superficial attractiveness of many psychopaths make it easy for them to have sporadic sex. Also, the lack of empathy and responsibility with the search for sensations they make it more difficult to maintain more stable relationships.

        12. Previous behavior problems

        It is not uncommon for the psychopathic subject to have already exhibited behavioral problems in his childhood. In this way is linked to dissocial disorderFor example, being able to engage in sadistic behavior and torture animals.

        13. Long-term planning issues

        Another common element of psychopathy is the fact that they tend to focus on the short term and get immediate satisfaction. They usually don’t look to the future (which also affects the lack of consideration for the consequences of their actions), or they may have some sort of goal that hasn’t been considered how to achieve it.

        14. Impulsivity

        It refers to unintentional behavior, act immediately according to the opportunity and one’s own appetite without considering alternatives or possible consequences.

        15. Irresponsibility

        This element refers to the lack of commitment to others. He may have a certain level of loyalty to his family and close social circle, but he usually does not pay much attention to obligations and duties to others.

        16. Non-acceptance of driving responsibilities

        Linked to irresponsibility, the psychopathic subject generally does not take responsibility for his own actions. Although he doesn’t feel guilty for them, he usually justifies them and uses different excuses.

        17. Brief relationships

        A subject’s relationship with psychopathy is generally not stable. Although they can have a partner, as we said before, there is usually no lasting commitment. They may have a marriage or even children, but they are usually neglected and often engage in cheating and other activities.

        18. Juvenile delinquency

        We have previously mentioned that since childhood, the subject with psychopathy exhibits a large number of features of this condition. It is not uncommon for more or less serious crimes to occur in adolescence. that they can have different repercussions for himself or for others, possibly committing serious crimes and even bloodthirsty ones.

        19. Revocation of parole

        This is an element reserved only for subjects who have been imprisoned and who may have opted for parole.

        20. Criminal versatility

        This last element tells us about the existence of various types of offenses committed by the subjectThis can range from theft, drug trafficking, murder, assault, sex crimes, kidnapping or reckless driving, among others.

        General aspects to consider

        In the PCL or Hare Psychopathy Rating Scale, as we have seen, the personality and behavior of people analyzed through it are assessed for their own characteristics of psychopathy. The elements in question can be grouped into different facets for analysis. Specifically, it proposes the existence of two main factors, having four factors to consider within them.

        Factor 1: interpersonal / emotional

        This first factor refers mainly to the more properly internal aspects of the subject, such as his personality, his way of approaching interpersonal relationships, affectivity and cognition. It is related to narcissistic traits. Within it we can find two basic dimensions, the interpersonal and the emotional.

        interpersonal dimension

        This dimension evaluates the type of relationship the subject has with his environment and how it relates to others. It mainly includes elements of superficial charm, feelings of grandeur, lying, manipulation, lack of guilt, superficial emotionality, lack of empathy, and lack of recognition of personal responsibility.

        affective dimension

        This second dimension refers to the management and the subject’s experience of emotions. This would include feeling-seeking, lack of self-control and empathy, superficial emotion, lack of sensitivity and empathy.

        Factor 2: social gap

        This second factor refers mainly to elements that inform us about the way in which the subject relates to the world around him and how his behavior is there. It is more closely linked to factors related to the commission of antisocial behavior. Within that we can find the lifestyle and the antisocial aspect of the personality.

        Way of life

        It refers to the type of life that the subject usually leads in their day-to-day life. Elements such as promiscuity, short relationships, lack of commitment or criminal versatility are included. The need for stimulation or the lack of long-term goals may also be included, The pursuit of sensations and egocentricity.


        This section includes behaviors that the subject has had throughout his life, such as the presence of crimes during his youth, if he was imprisoned and if he had his parole revoked or his lack of responsibility for him. -even.

        bibliographical references

        • Foliño, JO and Castell, JL (2006). The facets of psychopathy according to the revised hare psychopathy checklist and its reliability. Argentine Journal of Psychiatry, vol. XVII: 325-330.
        • Lykken, D. (1994) Antisocial Personalities. Barcelona: Herder.

        Leave a Comment