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Title: Relational aggression, antisocial behaviour, and psychopathy in Canadian female offenders.
Authors: Mansfield-Green, Sarah
Keywords: Female offenders;relational aggression;antisocial behaviour;psychopathy;descriptive model of social hierarchy development;mixed methods;Canada;callousness;machiavellianism;violent offenders;incarceration;treatment;assessment,;training
Issue Date: 18-Aug-2017
Abstract: Interest in the expression of female aggression, antisocial behaviour, and psychopathy has grown in recent years as a result of steadily increasing incarceration rates of women in Canada (38.6% over the past 10 years). Previous research suggests that the relational nature of female aggression, in offender and non-offender samples, differentiates women from their male counterparts. Whereas males tend to be physically aggressive, relational aggression is the most common form of aggression employed by women, is associated with psychopathic traits, and has been found to predict criminal activity. As research pertaining to these factors in adult female offenders is in its infancy, it is imperative that the role of relational aggression in incarcerated women, both violent and non-violent, be further explored. To this end, a mixed method design was implemented, including 56 female offenders recruited from three correctional facilities in Ontario, Canada. All participants completed a series of questionnaires measuring relational aggression, antisocial behaviour, and psychopathy. Sixteen participants also participated in semi-structured interviews querying their lived experiences of relational aggression in a custodial setting. All participants, regardless of being identified as violent or non-violent offenders, disclosed experiencing victimization by way of relational aggression while serving their sentence and the majority acknowledged acting as perpetrators. Emerging from the results was a fivestage descriptive model detailing the process through which dominant female inmates employ relationally aggressive tactics (e.g., gossiping/rumour spreading, guilt induction, malicious humour, social exclusion, and social manipulation) to establish and maintain social hierarchies on their respective units. The presence of several psychopathic traits also emerged that prove useful in social hierarchy development; more specifically, both violent and non-violent women exhibited a certain level of machiavellianism, callousness, social influence, rebelliousness, and impulsivity. Callousness, specifically, was found to significantly predict relational aggression perpetration in those who also have more substantial histories of victimization by way of the same relationally aggressive tactics. Additional results pertaining to female antisocial behaviour and the observed psychopathic traits in the current sample are reported. Recommendations for future research, training, and assessment are proposed.
Appears in Collections:Master's Theses
Psychology / Psychologie - Master's theses

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