Wechsler Performance-Verbal Discrepancy and Antisocial Behavior

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Psychologists have been debating the meaning of discrepant scores on the performance and verbal sections of the Wisc/Wais IQ scales (P > V) since Wechsler's (1958) statement that, "The most outstanding feature of the sociopath's test profile is the systematic high score on the performance as compared to the verbal part of the scale" (p. 176). Attempts to link P > V scores to other assumed correlates of sociopathy have met with mixed results (Matarazzo, 1972). Perhaps the major reason for inconsistent findings has been the common practice of splitting samples at the median of the P-V discrepancy scores and comparing the mean scores of the subsamples on various indices of antisocial behavior. This practice ignores Wechsler's (1974) assertion that only a P > V discrepancy "of 15 points or more is important and calls for further investigation" (p. 34). The present study divided a sample of juvenile probationers into those with P > V discrepancies of less than 15 (n = 89), and those with scores of 15 or more (n = 42). We then compared the group means on violent and property crime scores, scored according to the Andrew (1982) Violence Scale. We also examined means on age at first contact with probation, and on the alternative hypotheses that high P > V discrepancies may be a function of lower overall intelligence as determined by full-scale IQ or of social class differences. Social class is measured consistent with Walsh (1985). Each case constitutes the entire juvenile history of all subjects because they were taken from files of delinquents who had attained adulthood.

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