The reliability and validity of the PCL-R in a representative sample of incarcerated male correctional offenders in Canada

Jennifer Storey, Stephen Hart, David Cooke, Christine Michie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R; Hare, 2003) is a commonly used psychological test for assessing traits of psychopathic personality disorder. Despite the abundance of research using the PCL-R, the vast majority of research used samples of convenience rather than systematic methods to
minimize sampling bias and maximize the generalizability of findings. This potentially complicates the interpretation of test scores and research findings, including the “norms” for offenders from the United States and Canada included in the PCL-R manual. In the current study, we evaluated the psychometric
properties of PCL-R scores for all male offenders admitted to a regional reception center of the Correctional Service of Canada during a 1-year period (n = 375). Because offenders were admitted for assessment prior to institutional classification, they comprise a sample that was heterogeneous with respect to correctional risks and needs yet representative of all offenders in that region of the service. We examined the distribution of PCL-R scores, classical test theory indices of its structural reliability, the factor structure of test items, and the external correlates of test scores. The findings were highly consistent with those typically reported in previous studies. We interpret these results as indicating it is unlikely any sampling limitations of past research using the PCL-R resulted in findings that were, overall, strongly biased or unrepresentative.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-146
JournalLaw and Human Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016


  • PCL-R
  • cohort sample
  • psychopathy
  • PCL-R norms

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