Assessing the Basic Traits Associated With Psychopathy: Development and Validation of the Elemental Psychopathy Assessment

Donald R. Lynam, Eric T. Gaughan, Joshua D. Miller, Drew J. Miller, Stephanie Mullins-Sweatt, Thomas A. Widiger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

288 Scopus citations


A new self-report assessment of the basic traits of psychopathy was developed with a general trait model of personality (five-factor model [FFM]) as a framework. Scales were written to assess maladaptive variants of the 18 FFM traits that are robustly related to psychopathy across a variety of perspectives including empirical correlations, expert ratings, and translations of extant assessments. Across 3 independent undergraduate samples (N = 210-354), the Elemental Psychopathy Assessment (EPA) scales proved to be internally consistent and unidimensional, and were strongly related to the original FFM scales from which they were derived (mean convergent r = .66). The EPA scales also demonstrated substantial incremental validity in the prediction of existing psychopathy measures over their FFM counterparts. When summed to form a psychopathy total score, the EPA was substantially correlated with 3 commonly used psychopathy measures (mean r = .81). Finally, in a small male forensic sample (N = 70), the EPA was significantly correlated with scores on a widely used self-report psychopathy measure, disciplinary infractions, alcohol use, and antisocial behavior. The EPA provides an opportunity to examine psychopathy and its nomological network through smaller, more basic units of personality rather than by scales or factors that blend these elements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-124
Number of pages17
JournalPsychological Assessment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Antisocial behavior
  • Assessment
  • Five-factor model
  • Personality
  • Psychopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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