Predicting short-term institutional aggression in forensic patients: A multi-trait method for understanding subtypes of aggression

Michael J Vitacco, Gregory J. Van Rybroek, Jill E. Rogstad, Laura E. Yahr, James D. Tomony, Emily Saewert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

60 Scopus citations

Abstract

Accurately predicting inpatient aggression is an important endeavor. The current study investigated inpatient aggression over a six-month time period in a sample of 152 male forensic patients. We assessed constructs of psychopathy, anger, and active symptoms of mental illness and tested their ability to predict reactive and instrumental aggression. Across all levels of analyses, anger and active symptoms of mental illness predicted reactive aggression. Traits of psychopathy, which demonstrated no relationship to reactive aggression, were a robust predictor of instrumental aggression. This study (a) reestablishes psychopathy as a clinically useful construct in predicting inpatient instrumental aggression, (b) provides some validation for the reactive/instrumental aggression paradigm in forensic inpatients, and (c) makes recommendations for integrating risk assessment results into treatment interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)308-319
Number of pages12
JournalLaw and Human Behavior
Volume33
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Institutional aggression
  • Prediction
  • Psychopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law

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