Hare, Robert D

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Hare, Robert D.


Robert Hare has spent more than thirty years studying the concept of psychopathy, its assessment, its nature, its implications, and its amenability to treatment (or the lack thereof). Hare is the creator and developer of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist and the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised, a reliable and valid assessment tool for determining the diagnostic presence of psychopathy, as well as risk for violence.

After completion of his master's degree in psychology in the early 1960s, Robert Hare realized that he needed to work for a while before commencing doctoral studies. Although he had no specific training , expertise, or interest in forensics, he accepted a position as the only prison psychologist at a men's maximum-security penitentiary near Vancouver, British Columbia (the British Columbia Penitentiary). His inexperience was immediately apparent to the inmates, and they commenced taking advantage of him by requesting favors, pushing boundaries, and manipulating him to the point of violation of prison rules. His interactions with a particular type of inmate (the psychopath), one who is endlessly manipulative, superficially charming, disrespectful of boundaries, a constant liar, and utterly unwilling to live within the standard rules and confines of society was, ultimately, one of the catalysts leading Hare to the study of psychopathy.

Hare's doctoral dissertation in psychology was concerned with the effects of punishment on human behavior. This led him to study the factors contributing to resistance to the effects of punishment, which, in turn, led Hare to research on psychopathy. He began publishing his empirical research on psychopathy in 1965, and published his first book, Psychopathy: Theory and Research, in 1970. This publication created the framework for Hare's future research in psychopathy.

Early in his work, Hare realized that a concept had to be quantifiable in order to be researched. He then set about creating an instrument with which to study the presence or absence of psychopathy in the criminal population. In 1980, Hare published his first 22-item psychopathy research scale. During this time period, the diagnostic criteria for antisocial personality disorder were being refined, and the psychiatric community paid little attention to Hare's work. By 1985, Hare had refined the assessment scale, pared it down to 20 items, and named it the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R). The PCL-R was to be completed during an in-person semi-structured interview, and used clinical chart data for corroborative information. Each checklist item was rated on a scale from zero (trait not present) to two (trait definitely present), making 40 the maximum possible score. The cutoff score for a diagnosis of psychopathy was 30. In 1991, Hare formally published the PCL-R, after having had validity and reliability data gathered as a result of the scale's use by his peers.

In addition to his groundbreaking research on the concept of psychopathy, and his development of the PCL-R, Hare has published books, articles, and book chapters on the subject of psychopathic criminal behavior. He belongs to the International Fellowship for Criminal Investigative Analysis, and is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, such as FBI citations, the Silver Medal of the Queen Sophia Center in Spain, the Canadian Psychological Association's Award for Distinguished Applications of Psychology, the American Academy of Forensic Psychology's award for "Distinguished Contributions to Psychology and Law," and the American Psychiatric Association's Isaac Ray Award for "Outstanding Contributions to Forensic Psychiatry and Psychiatric Jurisprudence." Robert Hare has made important and lasting contributions to the field and evolution of forensic science .

see also Polygraphs; Profiling; Ritual killings; Training.