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Personality Correlates (Aggression and Impulsivity) and their Predictive Ability to Self-Report Delinquency

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Introduction

Personality Correlates (Aggression and Impulsivity) and their Predictive Ability to Self-Report Delinquency Rajat Passy Liverpool Hope University College Hope Park Liverpool, L16 9JD Email: [email protected] ABSTRACT A sample of undergraduate university students (n=50) was used to test Eysenckian hypotheses of personality dimensions being able to predict delinquent behaviour. Certain personality variables were conceptually derived from Eysenck's dimensions and were tested to evaluate a correlation between individuals having the specific personality traits (aggression and impulsivity) and self-reported delinquent behaviour. Self-report delinquency measures and personality variable measures were administered to participants under strictly anonymous conditions. The findings demonstrated clear support for aggression positively correlating with self-reported delinquency (r=0.56, p<0.001) whereas the correlation between impulsivity and self-reported delinquency was not as strong (r=0.35, p<0.05) in line with previous research on neuroticism as a weaker predictive factor. The results are discussed with reference to previous research on personality correlates to delinquency and the implication and limitation of current research are suggested. Contents 1. Introduction .................... Page 3 2. Method .................... Page 5 3. Results .................... Page 8 4. Discussion .................... Page 9 5. Acknowledgements .................... Page 12 6. References .................... Page 12 7. Appendix A - Administered Questionnaire .................... Page 15 8. Appendix B - Full Results .................... Page 19 9. Appendix C - Graphical Representation .................... Page 20 10. Appendix D - Raw Data Spreadsheet .................... Page 21 11. Appendix E - BPS Ethics Approval .................... Page 22 INTRODUCTION There is a pressing need to better understand youth crime and delinquency as it has been harming society for decades. Delinquent behaviour is costly to society because not only is it becoming increasingly expensive to operate the juvenile justice system but it also damages the emotional well being of victims (Heaven, 1996). The fatal shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, USA on 20th April, 1999 emphasized on this need for a comprehensive understanding of the reasons behind these motivations and perhaps a way to predict future delinquent or criminal behaviour. ...read more.

Middle

Contrary to the controversial status of previous research concerning Eysenck's theory of criminality, the findings in this study were remarkably consistent. Self-reported delinquency was significantly associated with aggression, an element that makes up Eysenck's dimension of psychoticism. Secondly, it adds to the growing literature showing no association between neuroticism and its elements as predictive of delinquent behaviour. In line with previous research (Furnham et al., 1991; Heaven, 1996; Rushton & Chrisjohn, 1981), impulsivity as an element of neuroticism, found no support for Eysenck's predictions. This lack of support for neuroticism was as clear as the evidence for psychoticism and this may be for a number of reasons. Eysenck could simply be mistaken when he declared neuroticism to be a predictive factor of self-reported delinquency. Rushton & Chrisjohn (1981) interpreted his hypothesis of neuroticism; in that, it played an interactional role, affecting the type of criminal activity under observation. Eysenck's own hypothesis (1977) is almost agreeing with Furnhams (1991) critique when he implies neuroticism to simply be less crucial during early stages of development of antisocial tendencies. But despite the controversies in relation to this dimension, psychoticism and its behavioural aspects (interpersonal hostility, egocentrism, "affective insensitivity") are unmistakably useful variables for prediction of delinquency. A limitation of the sample could perhaps be argued by critics that the conventional way of measuring delinquency would have been through a 'known-group' design (Feldman, 1977; Krueger et al. 1994 cited in Romero, Luengo and Sobral, 2001) It has been suggested that the observed relationships between personality and detected delinquency i.e. apprehended delinquents, may simply reflect relationships between personality and likelihood of apprehension. Secondly, the institutionalisation of individuals may also influence personality. In the present study however, an undergraduate sample was studied who were not institutionalised and the study was ecologically valid. Known-group delinquency studies have failed to control the confounding variables of A.) The relationship between different personality variables leading to apprehension B.) The institutionalisation of delinquents may have influenced personality variables to quite an extent. Romero et al. ...read more.

Conclusion

Error of the Estimate 1 .570(a) .325 .296 8.390 a Predictors: (Constant), ITOTAL, ATOTAL The forced-entry method was used to assess whether any of the personality variables had a causal relationship with self-reported delinquency. The results are tabulated below: Table II -Coefficients Confidence limits were narrow, showing that 95% of the population slope is between 0.99 to 2.48 for aggression and -1.20 to 0.38. The F-value (f=11.303, DF=2) had an associated probability value of p<0.001, showing that the results were unlikely to have arisen by sampling error. The multiple regression analyses results show that the association between the dependent variable and independent variable is a moderate association(r=0.76). Together, impulsivity and aggression accounted for approximately 30% of the variation in self-reported delinquency (adjusted r2). The regression co-efficient for aggression was 1.72 (95% CI = 0.99-2.48); and for impulsivity it was -0.41 (95% CI = -1.20-0.38). Since the confidence limits for aggression did not encompass a negative value, it can be concluded that the population regression coefficient for aggression is positive (t=4.71, p<0.001). This however cannot be accepted for the regression coefficient for impulsivity (t=-1.05, p>0.05). The standardized regression coefficients show that aggression is a strong predictor of self-reported delinquency than impulsivity. It may be seen from the above scattergram that there is a positive relationship between self-reported delinquency and individual aggressiveness (for specific statistics of the line slope, refer to Appendix B). Likewise it may also be seen from the above scattergram that impulsivity has no correlation with self-reported delinquency (for specific statistics of the line slope, refer to Appendix B). 1 There is some disagreement surrounding Eysenck's labelling of the personality dimension as "psychoticism" which he elsewhere refers to as "toughmindedness" (e.g. Eysenck & Eysenck, 1975) For critical reviews consult Block (1977) and Howarth (1986). 2 For the biological basis of Eysenck's theory, refer to Gray (1970) and Eysenck & Eysenck (1976). Personality Correlates (Aggression and Impulsivity) and their Predictive Ability to Self-Report Delinquency - 1 - Personality Correlates (Aggression and Impulsivity) and their Predictive Ability to Self-Report Delinquency - 20 - ...read more.

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