Clarifying the characteristics of youth who have engaged in appetitive violence
Appetitive violence is a form of proactive violence; its purpose is to generate or maintain a positive emotional state and, possibly, to strengthen social bonds. Portrayals of an increasing frequency of youth acts of appetitive violence have contributed to a perception that aggressive delinquents are callous and predatory. However, the characteristics of these youth and the nature of their violent behaviour have not been elucidated. This study compared demographic and psychological characteristics of 143 young violent offenders according to whether or not they had a history of appetitive violence. It was hypothesised that youth with a history of appetitive violence would score higher on a measure of psychopathy and that their violence would be perpetrated within the context of a group assault. Results revealed that acts of appetitive violence were perpetrated exclusively by males and were more likely to occur when co-offenders were present. Psychopathy did not differentiate the youth. These results suggest that appetitive violence perpetrated by young offenders is the product of social factors rather than individual psychopathology.