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Understanding the Relevance of Triarchic Psychopathy for the Reintegration of New Zealand High-Risk Violent Offenders

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posted on 23.11.2021, 13:07 by Nafatali, Rochelle

A significant number of male New Zealand high-risk violent offenders are released from prison onto parole each year. Many of these will also present with elevated psychopathic traits which have been hypothesised to cause significant difficulty in desisting from offending, often leading parolees to quickly recidivate or breach parole, and return to prison. Despite personality disorders having pervasive effects on functioning, other reintegration outcomes such as parolee experiences and reconviction risk on parole have previously been unlinked with personality disorders and even less so the specific components of psychopathy. Using an exploratory design, this study firstly investigated the relationships between the triarchic conceptualisation of psychopathy constructs of Disinhibition, Boldness, and Meanness individually with pre-release (Violence Risk Scale, Release Plan Quality, and RoC*RoI), and post-release (Dynamic Risk Assessment for Offender Re-entry, Probation Relationship Quality, Parole Experiences Measure, and recidivism) measures of reintegration outcomes. These measures were completed by a sample of high-risk violent offenders imminently before their release onto parole after serving custodial sentences of two years or more for a violent offence (pre-release), and at two months in the community (post-release). Secondly, the controversial question of whether boldness exacerbates or attenuates negative outcomes on parole over and above disinhibition or meanness was tested. Thirdly, relationships between psychopathy and recidivism mediated by reintegration outcome measures were examined. The triarchic scales were hypothesised to be relevant for reintegration outcomes, with poorer outcomes expected for disinhibition and meanness, and better outcomes expected for boldness. Further, boldness was expected to ameliorate negative outcomes when strongly present. Results indicated that the triarchic scales evinced differential relationships with reintegration outcomes, although boldness revealed non-significant outcomes in opposing directions from those hypothesised. Disinhibition and meanness evinced expected outcomes with reintegration outcome measures. An interaction effect was found between meanness and reconviction risk on parole at moderate and high levels of boldness; boldness potentiated the effect of meanness on reconviction risk on parole when meanness was already present. Finally, a significant partial mediation was revealed, where disinhibition and recidivism were mediated by parole experiences in three out of four recidivism outcomes. Implications for the theoretical and practical relevance of triarchic psychopathy for the reintegration of high-risk violent offenders, are discussed.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Forensic Psychology

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Science

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Psychology


Polaschek, Devon