Childhood risk, offending trajectories, and psychopathy at age 48 years in the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development

Alex R. Piquero, David P. Farrington, Nathalie M.G. Fontaine, Gina Vincent, Jeremy Coid, Simone Ullrich

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66 Citations (Scopus)


Psychopathy has been a sustained interest among psychologists and, to a lesser extent, among criminologists. Studies on psychopathy have tended to focus on its measurement and predictive ability, primarily in adolescence and primarily among more serious offenders. This article moves beyond prior research on psychopathy and is the first to link childhood risk factors and offending trajectories measured through age 40 to psychopathy at age 48 in a community sample of several hundred South London males in the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development. Results show that although childhood environmental and, to a lesser extent, childhood individual risk factors are associated with a range of psychopathy measures, controlling for offending trajectories renders most of those childhood risks insignificant. Evidence also shows that while extreme scores of psychopathy are rare among this community sample, chronic offending is strongly linked to psychopathy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-598
Number of pages22
JournalPsychology, Public Policy, and Law
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Childhood risk
  • Longitudinal
  • Psychopathy
  • Trajectories

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