Psychopathy, gang membership, and moral disengagement among juvenile offenders

Katie Dhingra, Agata Debowska, Kathryn Sharratt, Philip Hyland, Susanna Kola-Palmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


– The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact of psychopathy factors and gang membership on moral disengagement while controlling for age, ethnicity, having run away from home, family member and/or friend arrests, substance misuse, parental physical fights, violence exposure (victimization and witnessing), and maternal warmth and hostility.

– The research is based on data collected from serious juvenile offenders (n=769) as part of the Pathways to Desistance Study.

– Six independent variables made a unique statistically significant contribution to the model: gang membership, age, gender, violence exposure, and psychopathy Factors 1 and 2. Psychopathy Factor 1 was the strongest predictor of moral disengagement.

– Results indicate that youth with heightened psychopathic traits make greater use of strategies to rationalize and justify their harmful behaviour against others. Implications in relation to theory and previous studies are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-24
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Criminal Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2015


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