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The effects of self-control and social connection on recidivism

Dissertation
Author: Rebecca D. Forkner
Abstract:
Self-control is well established as a major contributor to criminality, and a lack of social connectivity has more recently been empirically supported as a factor in the etiology of criminal behavior. The effects of self-control on the ability to make social connections, and the effects of social connectivity on the development and maintenance of self-control have also become a focus as major influences on desistance from crime. Participants were 66 male and 29 female pre- and post-incarceration individuals ranging in age from 18 to 69 years. This study investigated: (1a) the relationship between social connection and recidivism; (1b) the mediation by post-release self-control on the relationship between social connection and recidivism; (2a) the relationship between post-release self-control and recidivism; (2b) the mediation by social connection on the relationship between post-release self-control and recidivism; (3a) the relationship between pre-release self-control and recidivism; (3b) the mediation by social connection on the relationship between pre-release self-control and recidivism. Self-control was measured via a self report scale (Tangney, Baumeister & Boone, 2004) both before release and twelve months after release, and social connectivity occurring across the twelve month self-release period was assessed from self-reports of marital status, employment, and educational and religious service involvement. Recidivism occurring across the twelve month self-release period was measured using self-reports of types of detected and undetected crimes committed and converted into a measure indicating number of types of crimes committed, per the versatility/variety hypothesis (Loeber, 1982). Results provided little support for the hypotheses. Both pre- and post-release self-control related significantly to recidivism, without mediation by social connection. Post-release self-control also related significantly to social connection. No significant direct link between social connection and recidivism was observed, though an indirect link was made via post-release self-control. A short period follow-up period between our assessments (one year), particularly in combination with our adult offender sample, was a limitation. Our purely objective measure of social connection was also a limitation. Our results indicate that both pre- and post-release self-control serve as reliable indicators of recidivism risk, and that social connections may increase self-control between release from prison and one-year post-release. Regarding policy implications, these results underscore the importance of building and maintaining self-control in individuals preparing for release from incarceration or in the post-incarceration environment. Further research with a longer follow-up period and subjective indices of social connection are important.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page List of Tables……………………………………………………………………………vi List of Figures…………………………………………………………………………..vii Abstract………………………………………………………………………………...viii Chapter 1 : Introduction…………………………………………………………………..1 Chapter 2 : Method………………………………………………………………………31 Chapter 3 : Results………………………………………………………………………51 Chapter 4 : Discussion…………………………………………………………………..69 Appendices………………………………………………………………………………99 References………………………………………………………………………………104

vi

LIST OF TABLES

Table Page Table 1. Social Connection, Self-Control, and Recidivism Measure Descriptives ……41 Table 2. Descriptive Information on Social Connection, Self-Control, and Recidivism................................................................................................................42 Table 3. Relation of Employment, Marital Status, Church attendance, and Education.................................................................................................................45 Table 4. Recidivism Occurring Across Twelve-Month Post-Release Period According to Participant Percentage……………………………………………….52 Table 5. Percentages of Participants Involved in Number of Educational Settings in Twelve Months Following Release..........................................................................53 Table 6. Percentages of Participants Involved in Types of Educational Settings in the Twelve Months Following Release..........................................................................53 Table 7. Percentage of Participants Involved in X Months Employment in the Twelve Months Following Release…………………………………………………………54 Table 8. Percentage of Participants Reporting Attendance at Religious Services at Follow-Up.................................................................................................................54 Table 9. Interrelationships Among Social Connection, Self-Control, and Recidivism................................................................................................................55 Table 10. Coefficients and Standard Error for Regressions in Model 1.........................58 Table 11. Relation of Employment, Marital Status, Church attendance, and Education to Self-Control And Recidivism..............................................................62 Table 12. Coefficients and Standard Error for Regressions in Model 1, where Employment Serves in Place of Social Connection..................................................65 Table 13. Coefficients and Standard Error for Regressions in Model 1, where Church attendance Serves in Place of Social Connection........................................68

vii

LIST OF FIGURES

Figure Page Figure 1. Theoretical Model One................................................................................…28 Figure 2. Theoretical Model Two...................................................................................29 Figure 3. Theoretical Model Three.................................................................................30 Figure 4. Timeframe for the Present Study.....................................................................34 Figure 5. The Unmediated Model...................................................................................50 Figure 6. Paths and Variables Involved in the Single-Mediator Model.........................50 Figure 7. Theoretical Model One....................................................................................56 Figure 8. Theoretical Model Two...................................................................................59 Figure 9. Theoretical Model Three.................................................................................60 Figure 10. Theoretical Model in which Employment Serves in Place of Social Connection........................................................................................................63 Figure 11. Theoretical Model in which Church Attendance Serves in Place of Social Connection........................................................................................................66

ABSTRACT

THE EFFECTS OF SELF-CONTROL AND SOCIAL CONNECTION ON RECIDIVISM

Rebecca D. Forkner, Ph.D.

George Mason University, 2010

Dissertation Director: June P. Tangney, Ph.D.

Self-control is well established as a major contributor to criminality, and a lack of social connectivity has more recently been empirically supported as a factor in the etiology of criminal behavior. The effects of self-control on the ability to make social connections, and the effects of social connectivity on the development and maintenance of self-control have also become a focus as major influences on desistance from crime. Participants were 66 male and 29 female pre- and post-incarceration individuals ranging in age from 18 to 69 years. This study investigated: 1a) the relationship between social connection and recidivism; 1b) the mediation by post-release self-control on the relationship between social connection and recidivism; 2a) the relationship between post-release self-control and recidivism; 2b) the mediation by social connection on the relationship between post- release self-control and recidivism; 3a) the relationship between pre-release self-control and recidivism; 3b) the mediation by social connection on the relationship between pre-

release self-control and recidivism. Self-control was measured via a self report scale (Tangney, Baumeister & Boone, 2004) both before release and twelve months after release, and social connectivity occurring across the twelve month self-release period was assessed from self-reports of marital status, employment, and educational and religious service involvement. Recidivism occurring across the twelve month self-release period was measured using self-reports of types of detected and undetected crimes committed and converted into a measure indicating number of types of crimes committed, per the versatility/variety hypothesis (Loeber, 1982). Results provided little support for the hypotheses. Both pre- and post-release self-control related significantly to recidivism, without mediation by social connection. Post-release self-control also related significantly to social connection. No significant direct link between social connection and recidivism was observed, though an indirect link was made via post-release self- control. A short period follow-up period between our assessments (one year), particularly in combination with our adult offender sample, was a limitation. Our purely objective measure of social connection was also a limitation. Our results indicate that both pre- and post-release self-control serve as reliable indicators of recidivism risk, and that social connections may increase self-control between release from prison and one- year post-release. Regarding policy implications, these results underscore the importance of building and maintaining self-control in individuals preparing for release from incarceration or in the post-incarceration environment. Further research with a longer follow-up period and subjective indices of social connection are important.

1

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

Criminology research is rich with debates concerning latent predispositions versus social influences that lie at the root of criminal offending (Gottfredson, 2005b; Sampson & Laub, 1993). Social causation (as well as latent trait or general theory of crime) researchers contend that latent traits, such as low self-control, can predestine individuals to criminal careers, and that these traits remain stable over the life course. Social connection (as well as social control, social bond, life course, and attachment) researchers hold that social relationships across the life span can overpower latent traits, urging those on criminal paths onto conventional, law-abiding ones. Another common theme in the criminology literature is the mutual influence that latent traits and life events have on each other, as well as recidivism, in cyclic fashion. Low self-control has been found to negatively influence criminal activity (Li, 2004; Hayslett-McCall & Bernard, 2002) and also predicts the ability to make social connections (Li, 2004). Similarly, social connections have been found to increase levels of self-control (Longshore, Chang, & Messina, 2005; Sampson & Laub, 2005a) and decrease recidivism (Li, 2004; Longshore et al., 2005). This research proposal will attempt to add to the growing body of literature in this area by trying to define more clearly the functional relationships among self-control, social connections, and recidivism. In particular, it will examine the extent to which self-

2 control predicts level of social connection and recidivism as well as the extent to which level of social connection predicts level of self-control and recidivism. It will also examine the extent to which self-control mediates the relationship between social connection and recidivism, and the extent to which social connection mediates the relationship between self-control and recidivism. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the United States currently incarcerates the largest proportion of its population compared to any other country throughout history (McGinn, 2006). An enhanced understanding of individual factors like self-control and social connections, that contribute to or inhibit criminal behavior, can foster the creation of crime prevention programs at educational, familial, individual, and/or societal levels. Harnessing a greater understanding of the factors that affect recidivism could also help with the formulation and implementation of cost-effective intervention programs during incarceration and the period of probation.

Self-Control

It is well established that a lack of self-control/self-regulation is a main contributor to criminal behavior (Gottfredson & Hirschi, 1990; Hayslett-McCall & Bernard, 2002). Definitions of self-control and definitions of self-regulation vary relatively little from study to study, and both terms have been used interchangeably in the literature to predict criminal behavior and delinquency. They are seen as “essential for transforming the inner animal nature into a civilized human being” (Baumeister & Vohs, 2004). Both self-regulation and self-control can be accentuated and altered by life events

3 and circumstances, such as social relationships (Sampson & Laub, 1993) and the availability of resources (Hobfall, 2002). However, some theorists believe that distinctions between the two can be made. Self-regulation has been described as the willful and intentional mechanisms by which humans may alter their own behavior, resist temptation, change their moods, and act in ways to achieve personal goals; it is the process of overriding natural, habitual, or learned responses by altering behavior, thoughts, or emotions (Baumeister & Vohs, 2003). Self-regulation is a process by which individuals exert control over their environment, and involves a number of internal and external interactions including goals, plans, intentions, self-monitoring and self- evaluation, feedback, and corrective behavior (Barone, Maddux, & Snyder, 1998). Tangney, Baumeister and Boone (2004) described it as a more automatic, flexible system that responds smoothly to changing environmental demands. Although often used interchangeably with self-regulation, the term self-control is sometimes used to more specifically describe the morally-driven, deliberate inhibition of unwanted behavioral responses (Baumeister & Vohs, 2003, 2004; Peterson & Seligman, 2004). Freud described self-control as an internal battle in which the ego attempts to restrain the dangerous desires of the id (Seeley & Gardner, 2006). Self-control is a slightly less flexible, internally-driven and maintained personality trait, and forms the basis from which self regulation operates. It is the “self-imposed [limitation] on the pursuit of self-interest” (pg. 51) that has strong stability across time and is greatly responsible for shaping behavior (Gottfredson, 2005a). Low self-control is responsible for the inability to resist wrongdoing (Wright, Caspi, Moffitt, & Silva, 1999).

4 Another element often described in the literature that can be used to distinguish self-regulation from self-control is the presence of attraction to risk seeking. Individuals with low self control “get a kick out of doing something dangerous,” “like new exciting things, even breaking rules,” and “prefer exciting and unpredictable friends” (pg. 359) (Li, 2004). Further, as Li (2004) points out, these particular low self-control characteristics are those especially related to crime and delinquency. In a review of self- control measures, Peterson and Seligman (2004) highlight the following low self-control elements that are present in good measures of self-control: “joyful, ebullient abandonment of restraint” and “impetuosity, high spirits, caprice, and a taste for deviltry” (page. 504). Although the authors conclude that these characteristics are typical of low self-control in general, they again may be more descriptive of delinquent individuals than individuals in the general population. In some ways the terms self-regulation and self-control are quite similar, and in some areas of research they are used interchangeably. However, as demonstrated, distinctions between the terms have been made that necessitates clarifying which construct is being utilized in the present study. First, the population utilized in the current proposed study is comprised of incarcerated or formerly incarcerated individuals and, second, the study utilizes a self-control measure that includes questions about risk seeking; thus “self-control” seems more accurate. Third, the construct being sought in the current study is more commensurate with the deliberate inhibition of unwanted behavioral responses that is described by Baumeister and Vohs (2004) and Peterson and Seligman (2004), rather than involving other construct characteristics such as emotional

5 and cognitive regulation, and goals, plans, intentions, self-monitoring and self-evaluation, feedback, and corrective behavior described by Baumeister and Vohs (2003) and Barone, Maddux, and Snyder (1998). For these reasons and for the purposes of clarity and consistency, the term “self-control” will be utilized throughout the remainder of this paper. Self-Control Development via Social Connection How does self-control develop, and how is it fostered? Hayslett-McCall and Bernard (2002) cited a number of empirical studies indicating the importance of attachment in the development of self-control: preschoolers with more secure attachment are more independent in the classroom; children who are more securely attached are more likely to have positive interactions with peers and explore their school environments; insecure attachment has been found to be related to externalizing behavior problems, increased aggression and antisocial behavior (Tangney, Baumeister, & Boone, 2004), indifference toward others, and difficulties in understanding another’s point of view (Hayslett-McCall & Bernard, 2002). Disruptions in early childhood attachment are host to a number of problems in adolescence and adulthood, particularly low self-control (Hayslett-McCall & Bernard, 2002; Wright et al., 1999). Children whose parents are not physically, emotionally, or cognitively available fail to receive guidance on problem solving and using prosocial behavior, and fail to receive effective punishment for antisocial behavior (Thornberry, 2005; Wright et al., 1999). Self control in childhood is linked to burgeoning social competence, adjustment, and morality (Eisenberg, Smith, Sadovsky, & Spinrad, 2004). In childhood, parents

6 model appropriate behavior and provide social support, which fosters the development of the child’s model for cognitive-affective connections (Hayslett-McCall & Bernard, 2002). Through cognitive-affective modeling, the child learns mature forms of emotional expression and control. Parents who are available not only teach important lessons about incorrect behavior, but also instruct children on improved and more mature forms of expression and behavior. Children who are subsequently well attached are more able to glean this information and put into practice the lessons learned. Modeling and instruction serve as vital sources of parental-, teacher- and community-conveyed self-control skills, such as persistence, self-praise and adaptive self-reactions to others. Further, theoretical models have demonstrated that the modeling of impulsivity, self-criticism, defensive self reactions, and/or the acceptance or rewarding of such behaviors can result in low self- control and other dysfunction (Eisenberg et al., 2004; Gottfredson, 2005b; Hayslett- McCall & Bernard, 2002; Thornberry, 2005; Wright et al., 1999; Zimmerman, 2004). The cognitive-affective model has been empirically supported: Individuals with low self-control not only have difficulty forming stable relationships but also maintaining relationships (Longshore et al., 2005). Difficulty forming and maintaining relationships may affect individuals in a number of important arenas, including academics and employment. Failure to make social connections in these environments limits one’s ability to learn, absorb, interpret, and place value on conventional goals and behavioral norms. Individuals with low self-control fit poorly into conventional society, and so they end up in weakened or broken social relationships that continue to negatively affect their self-control and ability to immerse themselves in society (Sampson & Laub, 1995).

7 Weakened, broken, or nonexistent social relationships ensure that individuals never get the chance to model the good, law-abiding behavior of peers, partners, or employers, receive social and economical support, learn that good behavior is linked with social praise and feeling good about oneself, and avoid criminal behavior (Longshore et al., 2005). Attachment styles contribute to the cognitive schemas that not only guide one’s perceptions and behaviors, but also influence the development of psychopathologies (Shorey & Snyder, 2006). Children without the invaluable resource of parental attachment fail to develop adequate self-control skills, and fail to learn to associate their actions with long-term consequences (Gottfredson & Hirschi, 1990). In some cases, parents are able to convey that certain behaviors are unacceptable, but they are unavailable to help guide their children in correcting their behaviors. Children respond by increasing the socially unacceptable behavior in order to increase parental attention, and if the socially unacceptable behavior is severe enough it can take the form of externalizing psychopathology. This behavior, characterized by a lack of self-control, is an early predictor of later delinquency (Hayslett-McCall & Bernard, 2002). Particularly for males, this behavior can become pronounced when parents intentionally inhibit attachment or punish attempts to attach. Finally, because parents are not the only individuals involved in the formation of social connections, peers also play an important role with, particularly, male-male social connections. The discouragement of male-male attachment in both peer relationships and familial relationships further results in limited

8 access to or reluctance to become involved in social connections that can help foster self- control (Gurian, 1998). Low Self-Control and Delinquent and Criminal Behavior Low self-control is defined by a host of behaviors that are typical of delinquents: impulsivity, insensitivity, physical (as opposed to mental) strengths, risk taking, short sightedness, and nonverbal tendencies (O'Connell, 2003). Individuals higher in trait self- control report fewer substance abuse difficulties; fewer incidences of involvement in juvenile delinquency, crime, and other antisocial behaviors; more secure attachment styles; interpersonal skills and more positive relationships with parents; higher grade point averages; better adjustment; fewer reports of psychopathology; higher self-esteem; less binge eating; more optimal emotional responses; less defiance; and less disruptive and immature behavior (Baumeister & Vohs, 2003, 2004; Hayslett-McCall & Bernard, 2002; Tangney et al., 2004). Criminal acts provide immediate gratification, are easy and simple to carry out (e.g. gain money quickly with less effort), are exciting, risky and/or thrilling, require little skill, provide few or slight long term benefits, and often bring harm to the victim (Gottfredson & Hirschi, 1990). The research of Wright et al. (1999) highlights characteristics of low self-control that may be especially conducive to high levels of criminal activity. Impulsive behavior, a lack of persistence in tasks, high levels of activity, physical responses to conflict, and risk taking are highly stable over the course of life (Wright et al., 1999). As do other theorists, these researchers point to lax rules and parental inattentiveness as a main cause of low self-control. Additionally, the lack of task persistence may also be tied to the lack of praise by parents. Without praise,

9 individuals are less able to associate completing good behaviors with feeling good (Hayslett-McCall & Bernard, 2002). Self-Control and Resource Conservation Baumeister and Vohs (2003) also discuss self-control in terms of resource conservation, or remaining in control of oneself within a certain set of environmental constraints. In this theory, self-control itself is viewed as a “limited resource that controls impulses and desires” (pg. 208). When an individual’s self-control resources are depleted, a person may fail to achieve goals, including morally-relevant or temptation- resisting goals. However, according to this model, resources like self-control can be renewed over longer periods of time. Nonetheless, recent research utilizing this model and other models of self-control failure indicates that aggression is a common by-product of self-regulation depletion (Stucke & Baumeister, 2006). Self-control depletion coupled with increased aggression during its depletion may significantly increase the risk of criminal activity. Measuring Self-Control Measures of self-control have taken various forms that have depended upon the intended focus in measuring self-control. Choosing an instrument most appropriate for measurement of criminally related self-control was essential for the current study. The Self-Control Behavior Inventory (Fagen, Long, & Stevens, 1975) is an observation-based checklist and, despite the advantages of direct behavior observation, requires well-trained observers, high consistency between those observers, and a large, representative behavioral sample of behaviors to observe. The Self-Control Questionnaire (Brandon,

10 Oescher, & Loftin, 1990) and the Restraint Scale (Herman & Polivy, 1980) emphasize health and eating self-control behaviors; thus, neither are useful as general measures of self-control. The Self-Control Schedule (Rosenbaum, 1980) lacks face validity and focuses on querying individuals’ use of strategies such as self-distraction and cognitive reframing in measuring their self-control. Thus, it may not be as appropriate as a measure of self-control as one that queries across more arenas of normal behavior. The self-control subscale from the California Personality Inventory (Gough, 1987) contains a number of items that seem unrelated to self-control (“I would like to wear expensive clothes;” “My home life was always happy;” “I would like to be the center of attention”). Tangney, Baumeister and Boone’s (2004) development of a broader and more valid measure of self-control followed an extensive review of published studies investigating self-control. Their Brief Self-Control Scale measures behaviors, via self- report, that have been found to be predictive of criminal activity (e.g. “I have a hard time breaking bad habits,” “I do certain things that are bad for me if they are fun,” “Sometimes I can’t stop myself from doing something even if I know it is wrong,” “I am good at resisting temptation,” etc.) This brief scale has good psychometric properties, face validity, and a demonstrated capacity to produce significant results (Baumeister & Vohs, 2004; Mathews, Youman, Stuewig, & Tangney, 2007). Alphas in two separate studies conducted with college populations by Tangney et al. (2004) were .83 and .85 (internal reliability), and test-retest reliability over a two-week period was .87. Individuals’ self-control alone cannot account for the existence or cessation of criminal behavior. In the next section social connection as a theoretical criminology

11 construct will be discussed in terms of its development, relation to conventional and deviant behavior, relation to criminality, and relation to the cessation of criminality.

Social Connection

Although self-control theorists posit that self-control increase one’s chances of committing a crime, social control, social bond, attachment and social connection theorists contend that it is the attenuation of social bonds throughout life that is at the basis of the deviance and crime (Sampson & Laub, 1993), or greatly mediates the relationship between self-control and delinquency (Li, 2004; Hayslett-McCall & Bernard, 2002; Sampson & Laub, 1993). According to social control theory, individuals are inherently motivated to deviate from normal social paths, but attachment to society attenuates this drive, urging individuals to conform to society’s rules and expectations (Wright et al., 1999). According to the self-expansion model (see Aron and Aron, 1986), in a close relationship, each member considers as part of the self the other member’s resources, perspectives, and identities (Aron, Mashek, & Aron, 2004). Social bonds tie individuals to the beliefs, behaviors, values, and activities of parents, teachers, employers, and peers that they encounter across the life course. Thus, in contrast to theorists who believe that attachment is established solely in infancy and early childhood (Gottfredson and Hirschi, 1990), attachment and social connection researchers contend that reattachment is possible throughout life when “detached” individuals come into contact with opportunities for social connection (Hayslett-McCall & Bernard, 2002), such as new relationships that provide love and support and employment (Hazan & Shaver, 1990).

12 Development and Utility of Social Connections Most of human functioning is situated socially (Bandura, 2006). Individuals work together through “interdependent effort” to achieve and shape their futures. Social connectivity is developed and maintained continually across the course of life, through parenting style and attention (Baumeister & Vohs, 2004), emotional attachment to parents in childhood, school attachment and attachment to peers in adolescence, stability in marriage and friendships, employment, and for some, military service (Sampson & Laub, 2005a). Law-abiding peer groups can help influence the development of positive behavior, and compensate when parental guidance or advocacy is lacking (Chung, Little, & Steinberg, 2005). Peers can also guide each other toward socially acceptable activities and away from deviant activities. School and work further offer the opportunity for youth and young adults to form relationships with teachers and employers as role models and agents that can connect them with important opportunities for advancement and skill development. School also offers youth the opportunity to become involved in positive extracurricular activities. In these environments, youth have the opportunity to learn about expectations that society has for them, as well as learn alongside peers who strive for conventional successes. Finally, neighborhoods can provide access to resources, set their own expectations, and increase the concept of commitment to and improvement of society (Chung et al., 2005). Lack of Social Connection and Subsequent Deviant or Criminal Behavior The loss of a spouse, relative or friend can each result in the loss of social support. The loss of social support can affect an individual in different ways, including

13 diminishing opportunities to learn appropriate interaction skills, less activity monitoring once provided by the lost individual, and lesser establishment and continuance of norms once partially set by that lost individual (Sommers, Baskin, & Fagan, 1994). The loss of a job or access to school are also replete with additional social repercussions beyond the practical, such as the loss of role models, the loss of conventional peer relationships, and the loss of occupational connections, information, and career advice. With each connection lost in society, the further an individual may drift off the conventional paths that individuals take in life (i.e. going to and completing school, keeping a job, getting married and having children, participating in societal events, etc.). The further an individual drifts off the conventional paths, the less likely that individual is to behaviorally operate according to societal norms and expectations (Sommers et al., 1994). Many youth lack individual, familial, and social resources necessary for the development of socially acceptable behaviors necessary for the improvement of their situations (Chung et al., 2005). As young people begin to make choices independent of parental, peer, and societal expectations, they more readily act in deviant and risky manners. In combination with the continued loss or lack of traditional social structures, these deviant and risky behaviors foster increasing isolation and marginalization from family, friends, school, and work, in cyclic manners (Sommers et al., 1994). Delinquent behavior further decreases social bonds (particularly to socially-minded peers), increases affiliation with deviant peers, fosters deviant belief systems, and disrupts orderly and timely transitions to adult roles (Thornberry, 2005).

14 Empirical research has supported what these theories have suggested concerning the relation between social connection and delinquent behavior. Incarcerated individuals with more friend and family visits are less likely to violate parole requirements (Bales & Mears, 2008; Ohlin, 1951), even when controlling for income at time of release, employment status, type of residence, number of previous incarcerations, and recidivism expectancies (Holt & Miller, 1972). Released offenders with high levels of actual social support are more likely than those without support to obtain employment and less likely to commit crime and use substances (Pearson & Davis, 2003). Further, individuals who are recently released from incarceration are more successful in their post-release life when living with other individuals than when living alone (Brodsky, 1975), and those living with spouses re-offend less than those not living with spouses (Laub, Nagin, & Sampson, 1998). Lakey (in press) distinguishes among three forms of social support, noting that only one is associated with psychological health and disorder. Social integration refers to the relationships in which individuals participate. Enacted support refers to the acts of help provided to an individual during times of stress. Finally, perceived support refers to an individual’s perception that he/she would be supported by friends and family during difficult times. Interestingly, only the latter is strongly and consistently associated with good psychological health and low psychological disorder regardless of stress levels. Further, studies have not established that increasing social integration leads to improvements in mental health (Lakey, in press). Social Connection “Turning Points”

15 Some theorists refer to social connection events that have the power to spur individuals off criminal trajectories as “turning points” (Chung et al., 2005; Kroger, 2004; Sampson & Laub, 2005a; Sommers et al., 1994). While early childhood experiences influence the development of criminal behavior, as well as its regularity and stability, experiences in adolescence and adulthood can change criminal paths into conventional adult paths (Sampson & Laub, 2005a). In some cases, research has indicated that perception of strong attachment to social institutions can create change (Sampson & Laub, 2005a), whereas other research has indicated that the mere presence of social institutions in an individual’s life can create change (Kroger, 2004). For example, Kroger (2004) found that the presence of a post-release marriage or a second, more stable marriage, military service, continued education, and a new, stable job serve as the most recognized turning points (Kroger, 2004). Marriage, in particular, is a causal and dynamic force potentially occurring over the course of adult life (Sampson & Laub, 2005a). Sampson and Laub (2005a) found that the effect of the simple presence of marriage on desistance from crime is independent of the person’s developmental history and reduces the probability of crime by 35% on average. The researchers posit that marriage can create a distinct separation of one’s past delinquent history from the present, which holds opportunities for investment in new relationships that offer mutual social support, growth, and new social networks. Through marriage comes obligation and restraint that other types of relationships may not yield. Marriage may also provide various forms of both direct and indirect supervision and monitoring of behavior, structured routines that focus on the life of the family away from peers and a chance to

Full document contains 127 pages
Abstract: Self-control is well established as a major contributor to criminality, and a lack of social connectivity has more recently been empirically supported as a factor in the etiology of criminal behavior. The effects of self-control on the ability to make social connections, and the effects of social connectivity on the development and maintenance of self-control have also become a focus as major influences on desistance from crime. Participants were 66 male and 29 female pre- and post-incarceration individuals ranging in age from 18 to 69 years. This study investigated: (1a) the relationship between social connection and recidivism; (1b) the mediation by post-release self-control on the relationship between social connection and recidivism; (2a) the relationship between post-release self-control and recidivism; (2b) the mediation by social connection on the relationship between post-release self-control and recidivism; (3a) the relationship between pre-release self-control and recidivism; (3b) the mediation by social connection on the relationship between pre-release self-control and recidivism. Self-control was measured via a self report scale (Tangney, Baumeister & Boone, 2004) both before release and twelve months after release, and social connectivity occurring across the twelve month self-release period was assessed from self-reports of marital status, employment, and educational and religious service involvement. Recidivism occurring across the twelve month self-release period was measured using self-reports of types of detected and undetected crimes committed and converted into a measure indicating number of types of crimes committed, per the versatility/variety hypothesis (Loeber, 1982). Results provided little support for the hypotheses. Both pre- and post-release self-control related significantly to recidivism, without mediation by social connection. Post-release self-control also related significantly to social connection. No significant direct link between social connection and recidivism was observed, though an indirect link was made via post-release self-control. A short period follow-up period between our assessments (one year), particularly in combination with our adult offender sample, was a limitation. Our purely objective measure of social connection was also a limitation. Our results indicate that both pre- and post-release self-control serve as reliable indicators of recidivism risk, and that social connections may increase self-control between release from prison and one-year post-release. Regarding policy implications, these results underscore the importance of building and maintaining self-control in individuals preparing for release from incarceration or in the post-incarceration environment. Further research with a longer follow-up period and subjective indices of social connection are important.