Interpersonal problem-solving and deterrence: Effects on prison adjustment and recidivism.

Interpersonal problem-solving and deterrence: Effects on prison adjustment and recidivism.

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Title: Interpersonal problem-solving and deterrence: Effects on prison adjustment and recidivism.
Author: Tweedale, Moira.
Abstract: This study investigated the relationships between problem-solving ability, perceived aversiveness and deterrence of sanctions for institutional misbehaviour, and subsequent institutional and community adjustment in convicted adult offenders. Subjects completed a battery of tests designed to assess certain interpersonal problem-solving skills. They also provided subjective ratings of aversiveness and deterrence value of 10 common institutional sanctions. Institutional conduct was subsequently monitored for 3 months following testing. In addition, further criminal activity was monitored for a period of 1 year following release from incarceration. The results reveal a modest relationship between problem-solving ability and institutional adjustment and a much stronger relationship between problem-solving ability and subsequent recidivism. Poorer problem-solvers incurred more institutional charges in the early phase of incarceration and more followup criminal charges. In contrast, ratings of aversiveness or deterrence were more strongly related to institutional adjustment and in general were not predictive of subsequent criminal recidivism. Perceptions of aversiveness or deterrence of sanctions, though positively correlated, were not identical. For example, a number of subjects rated the sanctions as aversive but not deterrent, indicating that to some extent these factors are independent. Of the two, perceived aversiveness appeared to be a more accurate predictor of actual institutional behaviour, especially where there was a discrepancy between perceived aversiveness and perceived deterrence. There was some evidence of a relationship between problem-solving ability and perceptions of aversiveness. Good problem-solvers tended to rate sanctions as more aversive than poor problem-solvers. Thus, the greater cognitive flexibility that results from well-developed problem-solving skills may potentiate perceptions of aversiveness. In addition, subjective perceptions of aversiveness and deterrence of sanctions were found to be unstable over time. This was unrelated to whether or not subjects had actually experienced the sanction in the interim between pretesting and posttesting. The findings are discussed in terms of their implications for deterrence theory and treatment-rehabilitation.
Date: 1990
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/5982

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