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Violence Potential Assessment

Prediction of violence is important, especially, while referring to predicting the interpersonal violence in different forensic psychiatric institutions to decrease the level of misconduct in these institutions. From this point, the effective assessment of the violence potential is important to determine the risky behaviors among patients (Stangor, 2013, p. 101). This paper aims to discuss the ways of predicting violence in forensic psychiatric institutions while focusing on the review of the recent research in the field.

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In their research, Laurell, Belfrage, and Hellström focused on finding the relationship between psychopathy in patients from the forensic psychiatric institution, the instrumentality related to the crime, and the severity of violence. The purpose of the researchers was to support their hypothesis that there was a direct relationship between psychopathy causing instrumental violence and the severity of violence. It was found that psychopathy inpatients should be discussed as the main factor to cause violent crimes while being related to the interpersonal affective dimension (Laurell, Belfrage, & Hellström, 2010, p. 292). Moreover, violent crimes caused by psychopathy are often instrumental in their character.

Despite the fact Laurell, Belfrage, and Hellström assessed the relationship between psychopathy and violence referring to past violent crimes, it is important to discuss the used methods because of their potential effectiveness to predict violent intentions in patients. To assess the violence potential associated with psychopathy in 65 male patients of the forensic psychiatric hospital in Sundsvall, Sweden, the researchers used the Psychopathy Checklist: Screening Version and the Cornell instrumentality rating scheme. The results received with the help of the checklist were compared with the results received with the help of the other tools, and it was stated that the Psychopathy Checklist is an efficient tool to provide the necessary information on the person’s potential for violence, including severe forms of violence and instrumental violence. Laurell, Belfrage, and Hellström also noted that it was important to pay attention to such factors as deceitfulness, superficiality, and grandiosity while discussing violence in patients (Laurell et al., 2010, p. 292). The results can be discussed as more credible when they are combined with the data collected with the help of the Cornell instrumentality rating scheme.

The methodology and results of the study by Laurell et al. (2010) can be used by a forensic psychology professional in a correctional setting in order to predict the violence potential of a person. The research indicates that the use of the Psychopathy Checklist: Screening Version is effective to study the relationship between psychopathy, interpersonal violent behavior, and severity of the potential violence. In this context, referring to the researchers’ findings, it is possible to assume that the relationship is direct and to use the Psychopathy Checklist to screen persons in forensic settings to assess their potential for committing violent crimes in the future (Arrigo & Shipley, 2005, p. 22). The authors also pointed at the role of the affective dimension for predicting violent behaviors, and this factor should also be taken into account while assessing the patients who can demonstrate high scores on the Psychopathy scale (Huss, 2008, p. 103). In addition, the use of the checklist is important not only to predict violence but also to determine the patient’s focus on instrumentality.

In this context, the prediction of violence can be discussed as dependent on the use of effective assessment tools to work with patients in correctional institutions. The proposed checklist can be used to identify the risks for violent behavior associated with interpersonal relations in forensic settings.


Arrigo, B., & Shipley, S. (2005). Introduction to forensic psychology: Issues and controversies in crime and justice. New York, NY: Academic Press.

Huss, M. (2008). Forensic psychology. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

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Laurell, J., Belfrage, H., & Hellström, A. (2010). Facets on the psychopathy checklist screening version and instrumental violence in forensic psychiatric patients. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 20(1), 285-294.

Stangor, C. (2013). Research methods for the behavioral sciences. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company.

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