Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




Peter Hoaken


The objective of this study was to test the validity of distinguishing between reactive and instrumental violence by determining whether these types of violence are related to different psychopathic traits. The files of 65 Canadian federal offenders were reviewed to determine frequency and severity of reactive and instrumental violent offending and frequency of nonviolent offending. Offenders self-reported their psychopathic traits using the Psychopathic Personality Inventory-Revised (Lilienfeld & Widows, 2005). As hypothesized, reactive offenses were more severe than instrumental offenses. Negative binomial regression indicated that rate of instrumental violent offending was negatively related to rates of both reactive violent offending and nonviolent offending which were unrelated to each other. Three of the six hypotheses concerning psychopathic traits were supported. These findings provide support for the reactive-instrumental distinction and are discussed within the context of the general theory of crime. Implications for the assessment of psychopathy and for rehabilitation programs are presented.



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