Spink, Alisa (2018) Testing a New Model of Criminal Social Identity in a Sample of UK Youth Offenders. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Reoffending rates for youth offenders have, not only shown to increase over the past ten years, but also exceed the reoffending rates for adult offenders. It is imperative that focus is drawn to reducing such reoffending rates in youths, particularly as they may be more responsive to intervention. Current intervention programmes for youth offenders have shown to have some promising elements but there are also limitations to many of the commonly used intervention programmes. Societal changes also dictate the need to continue to support or develop existing programmes. As such, it is key to explore the underlying factors that may lead to offending. The Integrated Psychosocial Model of Criminal Social Identity (IPM-CSI) forms the basis for such research, however, gaps have been noted in the samples adopted. Limited research utilises youth offender samples and/or female or mixed gender samples. The present thesis aims to address this gap in research by testing the IPM-CSI in a mixed gender youth offender sample.

The Measure of Delinquent Social Identity (MDSI) was devised and validated to address the previous void in a lack of measure of criminal social identity specified for juveniles. In order to test the MDSI a sample of five hundred and thirty-six (N = 536) youth offenders (males n = 348; females n = 188) was selected from UK community youth offending teams. This sample was also utilised in subsequent chapters. Using confirmatory factor analysis, the model identified as being the best fit for the data was a bifactor model with three grouping factors (cognitive centrality, in-group affect, and in-group ties), while controlling for the general factor. Using composite reliability, the MDSI was shown to have good reliability. The MDSI was then utilised in subsequent chapters.

The subsequent empirical chapter aimed to test the constructs of the Integrated Psychosocial Model of Criminal Social Identity (IPM-CSI) in a sample of youth offenders. Previous research has tested the separate entities of the IPM-CSI model, but it has not been tested as a whole. In order to test the model, two separate path analyses were performed for the two genders. Findings indicated some constructs of the model were only significant for males, e.g. a negative correlation between self-esteem and cognitive centrality for males only. Findings also indicated that some constructs of the model were only significant for females, e.g. a positive correlation between affective responsiveness and in-group ties for females only. The findings provide some support for aspects of existing interventions programmes while suggesting other target areas. Furthermore, the present research supports the implementation of gender specific intervention programmes.

The third empirical chapter aimed to explore the effects of each of the four psychopathy facets (affective responsiveness, cognitive responsiveness, interpersonal manipulation, and egocentricity) on the relationship between associations with other offenders and delinquent social identity. Moderated regression and simple slop analyses revealed the relationship between criminal friends index and the facets of delinquent social identity were moderated by varying levels of interpersonal manipulation, cognitive responsiveness, affective responsiveness, and egocentricity. It is recommended that future research utilise a larger or more proportionate sample in order to consider gender differences in the moderating role of psychopathy.

To summarise, the present thesis has identified support for some areas of the IPM-CSI. As such, these elements can be incorporated into interventions programmes with a view to reducing reoffending. The present thesis highlighted gender similarities and differences indicating which areas of interventions programmes can be utilised for both genders and which areas ought to be tailored to gender specific needs.

FINAL THESIS - SPINK.pdf - Accepted Version
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