A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: Taxometric Evidence of the Dimensional Structure of Stalking

NICHOLAS LONGPRE, Ewa B. Stefanska, Maria Tachmetzidi Papoutsi, Eleanor White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

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Abstract

Purpose: Stalking can be defined as a pattern of repeated and unwanted behaviours that cause another person to be afraid. The consequences for the victims can be severe and potentially happen over a long period of time. While stalking is considered as a taxon, empirical evidence, and an absence of pathognomonic criteria, point toward a dimensional structure.
Methods: The aim of the present study is to examine the latent structure of stalking using taxometric analyses on the Severity of Stalking Behaviours Scale. Analyses were conducted on a sample of N = 1032 victims’ accounts, who had contacted the National Stalking Helpline in the United Kingdom.
Findings: Taxometric analyses revealed that stalking presents a dimensional structure and no taxonic peaks emerged. Results were consistent across analyses (MAMBAC, MAXEIG and L-Mode), indicators (CCFI, Curves) and measures (Items, Factors).
Implications: A dimensional structure implies that individual variation is a matter of intensity, and the present results suggest that the conceptualization of stalking should be modified. Understanding stalking from a dimensional perspective provides support to study stalking in nonclinical populations. Scales that measure stalking should provide discrimination along the entire continuum rather than focusing on putative taxonic boundaries and arbitrary threshold.
Originality: This paper is proposing the first set of taxometric analyses on stalking. Results are providing empirical support to the idea that stalking exists on a continuum. It also strengthened the validity of previous findings in nonclinical populations and their applications all along the continuum, including with clinical populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
JournalJournal of Criminal Psychology
Early online date3 Jan 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Jan 2023

Keywords

  • Stalking
  • Taxometric
  • Latent Structure
  • Dimensional Structure
  • Measurement
  • Cut-off

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