Readiness to change (RTC) indicates an individual's recognition of a problem as well as confidence in their ability to change (Gaume, Bertholet, & Daeppen, 2016), and is hypothesized to play an important role in therapeutic processes aimed at changing offending behaviors (Polaschek & Ross, 2010). However, prior research has generally failed to consider RTC among severe offender subgroups (Hodge & Renwick, 2002; Howells & Day, 2007) such as those with psychopathic personality features whom have often been characterized as resistant to treatment (Harris & Rice, 2006; Salekin, 2002). In the current sample of formerly incarcerated persons (N = 70), we explore the relationship between psychopathic personality traits, as measured by the Triarchic Psychopathy Measure (TriPM; Patrick, 2010), and the unique components of RTC, as measured by an originally constructed assessment called the Change Readiness Scale (CRS). Each item of the CRS has been empirically supported and combined to form five subscales of change readiness (recognition, action, social bonds, human agency, and self-efficacy). Results show unique associations between the subscales of the TriPM and aspects of the RTC construct, yielding it necessary to further explore these relationships to better understand how these factors may contribute to treatment and justice system outcomes.
Readiness to change (RTC) has been defined as “the presence of characteristics (states or dispositions) within either the client or the therapeutic situation, which are likely to promote engagement in therapy and that thereby, are likely to enhance therapeutic change” (Day, Casey, Ward, Howells, & Vess, 2014, p. 145). The RTC construct has also been identified throughout literature as a combination of internal and external factors (e.g., motivation, program responsivity, therapeutic alliance, and contextual variables) that influence personal engagement in therapeutic and rehabilitative processes (Looman, Abracen, Serin, & Marquis, 2005). According to Howells and Day (2007), RTC is influenced by an individual's capacity to experience, express, and reflect upon emotions, and an ineptness to do so is an impediment to the effectiveness of therapeutic processes. Furthermore, prior research has suggested that those with specific personality constructs (e.g. impulsivity, recklessness, callousness) are also likely to have risk factors that are known to inhibit readiness for change (Gaume, Bertholet, & Daeppen, 2016; Howells & Day, 2007; Kazemi, Levine, Dmochowski, Horn, & Qi, 2015). One such personality construct is psychopathy which can be characterized by interpersonal deficits (e.g., superficial, glib, lying, and manipulative), affective deficits (e.g., callous, lack of remorse, and emotional depravity), and behavioral features (e.g., criminal history, impulsive, reckless, and risk-seeking) with three or four dimensions (see e.g., Cooke & Michie, 2001; Hare & Neumann, 2006). The number of dimensions identified is largely contingent on the inclusion of items that capture criminal behavior with four dimensions being identified when such items are considered (Hare & Neumann, 2006). Theories of psychopathy posit that the fundamental manifestations of the disorder (i.e., superficial charm, lack of anxiety, incapacity to establish meaningful relationships, egocentricity) translate into self-defeating behaviors conducive to difficulties with impulsivity, hostility, or deceitfulness (Skeem & Cooke, 2010).