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NCJ Number: 78084 Find in a Library
Title: Inmates' Attributions - Their Antecedents and Effects on Coping
Journal: Criminal Justice and Behavior  Volume:8  Issue:2  Dated:(June 1981)  Pages:159-172
Author(s): K Saulnier; D Perlman
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 14
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This Canadian study examined 60 inmates' explanations (or attributions) about the causes of their criminal behavior; the inmates were in a medium-security penitentiary in Canada.
Abstract: The study predicted that inmates with previous records would attribute their crimes to internal, dispositional factors, that multiple reasons would be given for severe offenses, and that causal attributions would be related to inmates' feelings about their situation and how well they coped in prison. Causal assignment included four major types of attributes: internal, stable; internal, unstable; external, stable; and external, unstable. Inmates were individually interviewed and completed several questionnaires regarding ability to cope. Questionnaires were also completed by staff. Results showed that inmates who had been imprisoned previously tended to make stable internal attributions. A significant positive correlation was found between the number of accomplices and inmates' rating of externality and between each inmate's own rating of the severity of his crime and the number of explanations given. Inmates who attributed their behavior to ongoing, stable factors had higher scores on the 'resigned' and 'apathy' items than did inmates who made unstable attributions. Reults using the inmates' ratings of their adjustment, as well as those using the staff perceptions of the inmates' adjustment to prison, were nonsignificant. Those who felt they were coping very well tended to express less loneliness. Thus, traditional attributional formulations were very successful in predicting inmates' processes of causal assignment. Prediction of the consequences of causal assignment was, however, less successful. Twenty references are included.
Index Term(s): Canada; Crime Causes; Inmate attitudes; Self concept; Self evaluation
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