Sherretts, Nicole, Boduszek, Daniel and Debowska, Agata (2016) Exposure to criminal environment and criminal social identity in a sample of adult prisoners: The moderating role of psychopathic traits. Law and Human Behavior, 40 (4). pp. 430-439. ISSN 0147-7307

The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of period of incarceration, criminal friend index (a retrospective measure intended to quantify criminal associations before first incarceration), and four psychopathy factors (interpersonal manipulation, callous affect, erratic lifestyle, and antisocial behavior) in criminal social identity (CSI) while controlling for age and gender. Participants were a sample of 501 incarcerated offenders (males n = 293; females n = 208) from three prisons located in Pennsylvania Sate. Moderated regression analyses indicated no significant direct association between period of incarceration and CSI or between criminal friend index and CSI. However, a significant moderating effect of interpersonal manipulation on the relationship between period of incarceration and CSI was observed. Period of incarceration was significantly positively correlated with CSI (particularly with in-group ties subscale) only for those offenders who scored high (1 SD above the mean) on interpersonal manipulation and significantly negatively correlated for those who scored low (1 SD below the mean) on interpersonal manipulation. Also, criminal friend index was positively significantly associated with in-group ties for high levels (1 SD above the mean) of callous affect. The main findings provide evidence for the claim that prisoners are likely to simulate changes in identity through the formation of bonds with other offenders and that this can be achieved using interpersonal manipulation skills.

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