U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

'Wasn't Me!' A Field Study of the Relationship Between Deceptive Motivations and Psychopathic Traits in Young Offenders

NCJ Number
Legal and Criminological Psychology Volume: 14 Issue: 2 Dated: September 2010 Pages: 335-347
Alicia Spidel; Hugues Herve; Caroline Greaves; John C. Yuille
Date Published
September 2011
13 pages
This study identified various deception-related motivations in a sample of juvenile offenders, with emphasis on the relationship between these motivations and psychopathic traits.
As predicted, the study found significant personality-mediated differences for psychopathy across several deceptive motivational categories. Compared to individuals with a low psychopathy score, individuals with a higher psychopathy score were more likely to engage in deception because of the excitement of duping others, heightening a positive self-presentation, and to obtain a reward; however, psychopathy was unrelated to the use of the other deceptive motivations examined: compulsive, secretive, careless, avoiding negative evaluation, protective, altruistic, and avoiding punishment. The findings suggest that what may separate high and low psychopathy offenders are not the behavior so much (as they all lie), but the underlying motivations for lying. Motivation reflects, in part, emotions and cognition, which in turn influence the manner in which lies betray themselves. Moreover, if the probable deceptive motivations of a particular type of offender are understood and known, the interviewer can be on guard for their types of lies. The study reviewed archived files and videotaped information for 60 Canadian Federal juvenile offenders in order to identify real-life patterns of deceptive motivations. In order to be included in the study, participants had to have an audiotaped personality interview on file; this consisted of a combination of the Psychopathy Checklist: Youth Version interview schedule and a modified personality interview. Interviews were of the same duration and structure for all the participants. Offender perpetrated deception was identified by file and interview reviews. Deceptive motivations were assessed according to the Petitclerc and Herve's (1999) protocol. 1 table and 33 references