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Offending behaviour in antisocial youths: psychological causes and practical implications

Syngelaki, Eva-Manolia 2008. Offending behaviour in antisocial youths: psychological causes and practical implications. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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The aim of this thesis was to examine the role of biobehavioural and social variables in explaining adolescent antisocial behaviour. One study examined neuropsychological functioning in 115 young offenders. A more extensive second study was carried out on a sub-sample of the original young offender group, consisting of 48 participants. This second study used more detailed neuropsychological assessments and assessed participants' responses to emotional stimuli. Emotional functioning was assessed in 3 ways: by recording electrodermal responses during a fear conditioning task, by recording the eye-blink startle reflex while participants passively viewed different types of affective pictures, and by examining facial affect recognition. It was expected, first, that antisocial teenagers would be characterised by a sensation-seeking personality, neuropsychological impairments as evidenced by executive functioning tasks, low IQ, poor electrodermal fear conditioning, and reduced startle amplitudes, compared to age and sex matched controls. Second, it was expected that biobehavioural risk factors would interact with social risk factors in explaining ASB, and that social factors would moderate the biobehavioural - ASB relationship. We found that young offenders differed from matched controls in terms of personality traits, and neuropsychological and emotional functioning. With respect to the second hypothesis, it was found that biobehavioural risk factors did not interact with social variables in explaining different types of offending behaviour, contrary to previous studies. Specifically, the research findings indicated that young offenders were characterised by lower IQ and specific neuropsychological deficits in terms of working memory, planning and decision-making. Additionally, they had problems with the learning, processing, and recognition of emotions. Finally, we showed that different risk factors were associated with different types of offending, with both social and biobehavioural variables predicting prolific and persistent offending, and only biobehavioural factors predicting severe offending. The implications of these findings for policy and practitioners working with young offenders were discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Medicine
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
ISBN: 9781303196812
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 10 Oct 2017 15:23

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