skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 221332 Find in a Library
Title: Guilt and Shame as Predictors of Recidivism: A Longitudinal Study with Young Prisoners
Journal: Criminal Justice and Behavior  Volume:35  Issue:1  Dated:January 2008  Pages:138-152
Author(s): Daniela Hosser; Werner Greve; Michael Windzio
Date Published: January 2008
Page Count: 15
Sponsoring Agency: German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft )
53175 Bonn, Germany
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The study examined to what extent feelings of shame and guilt experienced during a prison term influenced recidivism.
Abstract: Results indicated that participants experienced feelings of shame and guilt rarely. Even when questioned soon after the beginning of their prison term only 13.71 percent and 48.16 percent of the inmates stated that they frequently felt shame and guilt, respectively, despite the social stigma that is imposed on young men by a prison sentence. Feelings of shame and guilt decreased rapidly during the first weeks of imprisonment, and continued to decrease during the course of imprisonment. Juvenile inmates quickly take on the normative attitudes of the prisoner subculture in which feelings of shame and guilt are hardly socially desired, and might even be regarded as a weakness. Overall shame and guilt occurred independently from other demographic, individual, and social factors underlying the importance of both variables as independent psychological constructs. Both shame and guilt have quite a high rate of unexplained variance; therefore, the causes of feeling shame and guilt remained unknown. Shame that results in higher rates of recidivism could be important in some countries or States where it is legal for the names/addresses of offenders, especially sexual offenders, to be made public, even after they've served their prison term. Finally, shame and guilt are just two traditions among several others that control the reduction of deviant behavior: situation, opportunities, social perception, needs, expectations and goals, and locus of control and habits are other factors that contribute to delinquent behavior. Future research should seek to find significant predictors for those two emotions and for their variations during the course of imprisonment. The data were obtained from 6 prisons in northern Germany participating in the ongoing Hanover Prison Study; the sample included 1,243 male German prisoners between the ages of 14 and 24 who were serving a custodial sentence for the first time. Limitations and future studies are detailed. Table, references
Main Term(s): Juvenile inmates; Psychological influences on crime; Recidivism causes
Index Term(s): Foreign inmates; Germany; Group behavior; Inmate attitudes; Inmate treatment; Juvenile Recidivism; Problem behavior; Psychological research; Recidivism prediction; Recidivism statistics; Risk taking behavior
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.