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You have to hit some people! Why problem-solving skills are more criminogenic than hostile attributional biases for adult male violent offenders


Kelty, SF, You have to hit some people! Why problem-solving skills are more criminogenic than hostile attributional biases for adult male violent offenders, Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 20, (5) pp. 713-734. ISSN 1934-1687 (2013) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2012 The Australian and New Zealand Association of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law.

DOI: doi:10.1080/13218719.2012.729022


Is it what adult violent offenders think or how they think that discriminates them from non-offenders? This study investigated whether attributional biases and aggressive dispute-resolution strategies represent criminogenic variables. The participants were 530 adults comprising 87 violent offenders, 235 university students and 208 men and women from a random community sample. Using interview narrative from violent offenders, a scale was specifically developed to measure differences in attributional biases and problem-solving. The surprising finding was that male offenders did not demonstrate more pronounced hostile attributional biases than men and women students or men and women from the community. Furthermore, most adults in this large sample demonstrated high levels of hostile attributional biases, suggesting this is not as criminogenic for adult offenders as previously as assumed. By contrast, the results on problem-solving showed that believing violence is acceptable and being prepared to use violence is more problematic for offenders. Two specific findings were observed. Compared with non-offenders, male offenders were less likely to be assertive and more likely to use verbal or physical aggression, especially in problematic situations involving significant others and family. The results combined suggest that it is not how offenders interpret the ambiguous behaviour of others, but rather what they will do to solve social problems that matters. In essence it is what offenders think not how they think that should be targeted in programmes. These findings have implications for effective intervention programmes. These implications and areas for further research will be discussed.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:adult offenders; aggressive behaviour; hostile attributional biases; offender
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Criminology
Research Field:Correctional theory, offender treatment and rehabilitation
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Justice and the law
Objective Field:Rehabilitation and correctional services
UTAS Author:Kelty, SF (Dr Sally Kelty)
ID Code:81080
Year Published:2013 (online first 2012)
Deposited By:Government
Deposited On:2012-11-22
Last Modified:2018-02-05

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