Alleyne, E., Sienauskaite, O., & Ford, J. (2019). To report, or not to report animal abuse: The role of perceived self-efficacy in veterinarians’ decision-making. Veterinary Record, 185. doi:10.1136/vr.105077
Background: Veterinarians are on the frontline of animal welfare, but little is known about the factors that facilitate their decision to report cases of abuse to authorities. Using perceived self-efficacy as a basis, the primary aim of this study was to examine the psychological and experiential factors linked to veterinarians’ reporting behaviour.
Method: We administered questionnaires to 176 veterinarians assessing the amount of training received on detecting/reporting animal abuse, perceived self-efficacy to report animal abuse, and whether they have reported animal abuse incidents to the relevant authorities.
Results: We found that perceived self-efficacy positively correlated with suspecting and reporting animal abuse, number of hours of specialised training, and years working in practice. As hypothesised, we also found that perceived self-efficacy explained the relationship between specialised training (in hours) and reporting animal abuse.
Conclusions: These findings highlight the psychological impact of specialised training on veterinarians’ reporting behaviour. Simply put, specialist training equips veterinarians with the confidence and self-efficacy to report suspected cases of animal abuse. The implications for training curriculum and veterinary policy are discussed.
Alleyne, E., & Parfitt, C. (2018). Factors that distinguish aggression towards animals from other antisocial behaviors: Evidence from a community sample. Aggressive Behavior, 44, 481-490. doi:10.1002/ab.21768
Animal cruelty is a form of passive and active aggression that is largely undocumented and unreported. Given that animals are voiceless victims, we have to rely on witnesses and frontline staff (e.g., veterinarians) to report incidents of abuse, which suggests the number of convicted animal abusers is an under‐representation of actual perpetrators. The primary aim of the current study was to identify the static and dynamic factors that distinguish animal abusers from non‐abuse offenders (i.e., individuals who self‐reported antisocial behavior, but not animal abuse), and non‐offenders (i.e., individuals who have not engaged in any antisocial behavior) in a community sample. The secondary aim was to identify the potential pathways that distinguish animal abuse perpetration from other types of antisocial behavior. Three hundred and eighty‐four participants took part in this retrospective, correlational study. We found that animal abusers share similar socio‐demographic characteristics to other offenders but are distinct in their exposure to animal harm/killing during childhood. Low animal‐oriented empathy and low self‐esteem distinguished animal abusers from non‐abuse offenders when controlling for confound variables and other psychological characteristics. We also found that low animal‐oriented empathy mediated the relationship between childhood exposure to animal killing and animal abuse perpetration, and that this relationship was stronger among participants with anger regulation issues. This is the first study to examine similarities and differences between animal abusers, non‐abuse offenders, and non‐offenders on socio‐demographic and psychological characteristics. The findings highlight potential treatment targets that are unique to animal abusers with implications for prevention and intervention strategies.
Parfitt, C., & Alleyne, E. (2018). Animal abuse as an outcome of poor emotion regulation: A preliminary conceptualization. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 42, 61-70. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2018.06.010
Animal abuse is an under-reported yet prevalent form of both passive and active forms of aggressive behavior. Its severe and upsetting consequences are not only experienced by the victims themselves, but also others in proximity (e.g., pet owners). Despite this, research and theory focusing on the motivations for such behavior appear to be sparse and limited in development when compared to other types of offending behavior, such as interpersonal violence. This article examines the motivations that underlie animal abuse and the maladaptive emotion regulation techniques that facilitate this type of behavior. We focus on two specific emotion regulation styles that have been implicated in existing literature; that is, the mis-regulation and under-regulation of emotions. Based on existing research and theories, we posit that the facilitative role emotion regulation plays in the perpetration of animal abuse is vital in our understanding of how and why this abuse occurs. In this article, we present a preliminary conceptualization of animal abuse behavior that depicts emotion regulation as a pivotal factor in key explanatory pathways.
Parfitt, C., & Alleyne, E. (2018). Not the Sum of Its Parts: A Critical Review of the MacDonald Triad. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse. doi:10.1177/1524838018764164
The MacDonald triad posits that animal cruelty, fire setting, and bed wetting in childhood is indicative of later aggressive and
violent behavior in adults. Researchers refer to this phenomenon as a precursor to later antisocial behaviors including serial and
sexual murder; while practitioners cite the triad in clinical formulations and risk assessments. However, there is yet to be a critical
review and consolidation of the literature that establishes whether there is empirical support. This article explores the validity of
the triad. We conducted a narrative review of the relevant studies examining the MacDonald triad and its individual constituents.
There is evidence that any one of the triad behaviors could predict future violent offending, but it is very rare to find all three
behaviors together as predictors. Thus, the empirical research on the MacDonald triad does not fully substantiate its premise.
Rather, it would appear that the triad, or its individual constituents, is better used as an indicator of dysfunctional home
environments, or poor coping skills in children. Future research is needed with robust and rigorous methodologies (e.g., adequate
control groups, longitudinal designs) to fully establish the MacDonald triad’s validity. Finally, further consideration is needed as to
whether the triad behaviors are more indicative of other problematic outcomes (e.g., maladaptive coping to life stressors).
Alleyne, E., & Henry, B. (2017). The Psychology of Animal Cruelty: An Introduction to the Special Issue. Psychology, Crime & Law, 24, 451-457. doi:10.1080/1068316X.2017.1414818
As guest editors for Psychology, Crime, and Law, it is with great pleasure that we present this Special Issue, “The Psychology of Animal Cruelty”. In this introductory article, we offer broad insights into what we think to be the importance of studying this type of offending behavior. This forms the basis and justification for putting together this compilation of research, which spans three continents, that is diverse in theory application, method and research design. We provide brief synopses for the articles included in this issue. These articles cover the social and psychological factors related to child and adult perpetrators, offence heterogeneity (e.g., varying levels of abuse severity), victim characteristics, amongst other features of animal cruelty. We also offer a commentary on where the research can go next, identifying specific gaps in the existing literature. We conclude that there is an abundance of extant, related research that we can draw upon to inform future studies (e.g., implicit theories, scripts/schemas, dynamic risk factors) and clinical practice.
Parfitt, C., & Alleyne, E. (2017). Animal Abuse Proclivity: Behavioral, Personality and Regulatory Factors Associated with Varying Levels of Severity. Psychology, Crime and Law. doi:10.1080/1068316X.2017.1332193
To date, research into adult-perpetrated animal abuse has consisted of studies using forensic and psychiatric samples. Given that animal abuse goes largely unreported, it is unclear whether the findings from the current literature are generalizable to unapprehended, undetected abusers in the community. However, the emergence of proclivity methodologies fill this gap by examining the relationships between animal abuse propensity and factors such as empathy, attitudes towards animals and antisocial behavior. The current study aimed to extend this literature by examining further individual-level variables (i.e., personality traits) and behavioral factors as correlates of animal abuse proclivity and as a function of varying levels of animal abuse severity (e.g., neglect versus severe violence). 150 participants took part in this correlational study. We found low extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, anger regulation, and illegal behavior to be significant factors related to animal abuse proclivity. We also found low extraversion, anger regulation, and illegal behavior to be significant factors across varying levels of animal abuse severity, but low neuroticism to be a unique factor related to less severe forms of animal abuse proclivity. These findings are further discussed in light of their theoretical and treatment implications.
Alleyne, E., & Parfitt, C. (2017). Adult-perpetrated Animal Abuse: A Systematic Literature Review. Trauma, Violence, and Abuse, 20, 344-357. doi:10.1177/1524838017708785
Adults perpetrate the majority of animal abuse incidents yet clinicians are left with very little evidence base to advance/enhance their practice. The purpose of this systematic review is to synthesize and evaluate the current literature on adult-perpetrated animal abuse and to identify the etiological factors related to this type of offending. Twenty-three studies met the specific inclusion criteria but most importantly, they examined the characteristics of adult perpetrators of animal abuse. The findings from this review were demarcated by sample type: (1) participants were the perpetrators of the animal abuse or held offence-supportive attitudes; and (2) participants were victims of intimate partner violence reporting incidents of animal abuse perpetrated by their partner. From the perpetrator perspective, there were key developmental (i.e., maladaptive parenting strategies), behavioral (such as varied offending behaviors), and psychological (e.g., callousness, empathy deficits) factors highlighted in the literature. Finally, in the context of intimate partner violence, findings indicated that perpetrators abuse animals to control, coerce, intimidate and/or manipulate their victims (this effect is moderated by the victims’ emotional attachment to their pet). This review inherently underlines treatment targets that could achieve greater clinical gains, but we also conclude that more empirical and theoretical work is needed in order to set an agenda that prioritizes future research and effective practice. Keywords: animal abuse, animal cruelty, adult perpetrators, offending behavior, intimate partner violence
Spruin, E., Baker, R., Papadaki, I., Franz, A., & Alleyne, E. (2017). Exploring the belief systems of domestic abuse victims: An exploratory study. Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice, 3, 17-26. doi:10.1108/JCRPP-10-2016-0028
Purpose: Support service provisions for domestic abuse victims has typically focused on the immediate risk and etiological factors associated with abuse. Consequently, there is limited research exploring more persistent and pervasive factors involved in this cycle of abuse, such as subjective experiences and beliefs held by victims of domestic abuse. The current study is a preliminary exploration of the individual experience of domestic abuse including the belief systems of participants. Increasing our understanding of key factors and beliefs in the experience of domestic abuse could enable support services to create more long-term sustainable support for victims.
Methodology: Twelve women with a history of domestic abuse participated in an exploratory interview about their general beliefs and thoughts surrounding their domestic abuse experience. Interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis.
Findings: The thematic analysis identified four belief themes: (1) personal responsibility, (2) antisocial attitudes, (3) environmental factors, and (4) negative attitudes toward police.
• Highlights the value of understanding subjective, personalized experiences and beliefs of domestic abuse victims.
• Identifies the importance of belief systems as potential treatment targets for domestic abuse victims.
• Acknowledges an avenue for more effective support provision for victims of domestic abuse.
Originality: This preliminary study offers new insights into the role of belief systems amongst a sample of domestically abused women. Understanding the significance of personalized, subjective experiences of domestic abuse victims is a step towards designing and implementing effective interventions. The findings further emphasize the need for more empirical research and theory development within the area of beliefs and domestic abuse victims.
Alleyne, E., Gannon, T., Mozova, K., Page, T., & Ó Ciardha, C. (2016). Female Firesetters: Gender Associated Psychological and Psychopathological Features. Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes, 79, 364-378. doi:10.1080/00332747.2016.1185892
Objective: Female firesetters are reported to commit nearly a third of deliberately set fires, yet there are limited studies examining the characteristics that distinguish them from suitable comparison groups. The aim of this study is to compare incarcerated female firesetters with incarcerated male firesetters and female offender controls on psychopathological and psychological features that could be targeted via therapeutic interventions.
Method: Sixty-five female firesetters, 128 male firesetters, and 63 female offenders were recruited from the prison estate. Participants completed a battery of validated tools assessing psychiatric traits and psychological characteristics (i.e., inappropriate fire interest, emotion/self-regulation, social competence, self-concept, offense-supportive attitudes, and boredom proneness) highlighted in the existing literature.
Results: Major depression and an internal locus of control distinguished female firesetters from male firesetters. Alcohol dependence, serious/problematic fire interest, and more effective anger regulation distinguished female firesetters from the female offender control group.
Conclusions: This is the first study to examine differences between female firesetters, male firesetters, and female control offenders on both psychopathological features and psychological traits. These findings highlight the gender-specific and offence-specific needs of female firesetters that clinicians need to consider when implementing programs that ensure client responsivity.
Parfitt, C., & Alleyne, E. (2016). Taking it Out on the Dog: Psychological and Behavioral Correlates of Animal Abuse Proclivity. Society & Animals, 24, 1-16. doi:10.1163/15685306-12341387
There is a lack of research examining the criminogenic factors related to animal abuse perpetrated by adults, despite the high prevalence of this type of offending. This paper presents a correlational study examining the factors related to two types of animal abuse proclivity. We found that childhood animal abuse, empathetic concern, and a proneness for human-directed aggression were significant correlates of direct forms of animal abuse (i.e., the animal was perceived to be the provocateur). We also found that childhood animal abuse, personal distress (i.e., anxiety from interpersonal interactions), and empathetic concern were significant correlates of indirect forms of animal abuse (i.e., a person was the perceived provocateur, the animal an alternative outlet for aggression). These findings highlight targets for prevention and intervention programs and the importance of distinguishing between different forms of and motivations for animal abuse.
Alleyne, E., & Pritchard, E. (2016). Psychological and Behavioral Characteristics Differentiating Gang and Non-gang Girls in the UK. Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice, 2, 122-133. doi:10.1108/JCRPP-05-2015-0017
Purpose: Research has demonstrated that girls are involved in gangs as members and affiliates. However, the psychological processes related to female gang membership has, to date, not been examined using a rigorous comparative design. The main purpose of this study was to assess whether female gang members exhibit distinct psychological and behavioral features when compared to female non-gang youth.
Design/methodology/approach: 117 female students were recruited from all-girls’ secondary schools in London, United Kingdom. Gang members (n = 22; identified using the Eurogang definition) were compared to non-gang youth (n = 95) on self-report measures of criminal activity, sexual activity, self esteem, anti-authority attitudes, their perceived importance of social status, and hypermasculinity, using a series of MANCOVAs.
Findings: The results found that gang members reported significantly more criminal activity, sexual activity, unwanted sexual contact and held more anti-authority attitudes when compared to their non-gang counterparts.
Practical implications: These findings support Pyrooz et al.’s (2014) findings that gang membership contributes to the theoretical conceptualization of the victim-offender overlap. Practitioners need to take this into consideration when working with female gang members.
Originality/value: There is very little research that explicitly examines the characteristics of female gang members with suitable comparison groups. This study adds to the growing literature on female involvement in gangs and highlights the distinct psychological and behavioral characteristics of this group. In summary, these findings support the notion that female gang members are both at risk of being sexually exploited and engaging in criminal activities.
Gannon, T., Alleyne, E., Butler, H., Danby, H., Kapoor, A., Lovell, T., Mozova, K., Spruin, E., Tostevin, T., Tyler, N., & Ó Ciardha, C. (2015). Specialist group therapy for psychological factors associated with firesetting: Evidence of a treatment effect from a non-randomized trial with male prisoners. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 73, 42-51. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2015.07.007
Despite huge societal costs associated with firesetting, no standardized therapy has been developed to address this hugely damaging behavior. This study reports the evaluation of the first standardized CBT group designed specifically to target deliberate firesetting in male prisoners (the Firesetting Intervention Programme for Prisoners; FIPP). Fifty-four male prisoners who had set a deliberate fire were referred for FIPP treatment by their prison establishment and psychologically assessed at baseline, immediately post treatment, and three-months post treatment. Prisoners who were treatment eligible yet resided at prison establishments not identified for FIPP treatment were recruited as Treatment as Usual controls and tested at equivalent time-points. Results showed that FIPP participants improved on one of three primary outcomes (i.e., problematic fire interest and associations with fire), and made some improvement on secondary outcomes (i.e., attitudes towards violence and antisocial attitudes) post treatment relative to controls. Most notable gains were made on the primary outcome of fire interest and associations with fire and individuals who gained in this area tended to self-report more serious firesetting behavior. FIPP participants maintained all key improvements at three-month follow up. These outcomes suggest that specialist CBT should be targeted at those holding the most serious firesetting history.
Ó Ciardha, C., Alleyne, E., Tyler, N., Barnoux, M., Mozova, K., & Gannon, T. (2015). Examining the Psychopathology of Incarcerated Male Firesetters using the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III. Psychology, Crime & Law, 21, 606-616. doi:10.1080/1068316X.2015.1008478
Research to date has been equivocal on the relationship between firesetting and psychopathology, and has been impeded by studies lacking adequate control samples. The present study examined psychopathology in a sample of incarcerated adult male firesetters (n = 112) and prison controls (n = 113) using the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III. Firesetters demonstrated multiple elevated scores on personality and clinical syndrome scales. Logistic regression showed that the borderline personality scale was the strongest personality scale discriminator between firesetters and controls. Major depression and drug dependence were the strongest clinical syndrome scale predictors. However, both clinical syndrome scale predictors appeared to be mediated by borderline personality scores indicating that firesetters are best characterized by responding indicative of borderline personality traits rather than other psychopathological deficits. The results suggest that, relative to other offenders, firesetters face challenges with impulse control, affect regulation, stability of interpersonal relationships, and self-image.
Alleyne, E., Tilston, L., Parfitt, C., & Butcher, R. (2015). Adult-perpetrated Animal Abuse: Development of a Proclivity Scale. Psychology, Crime & Law, 21, 570-588. doi:10.1080/1068316X.2014.999064
There is a clear discrepancy in the reporting of animal cruelty complaints, prosecutions and convictions suggesting that any prevalence figures of abuse are significant under-representations. Therefore, it can be inferred that there is a large number of animal abusers who are unapprehended. Currently there is no validated tool that assesses the proclivity or propensity to engage in animal abuse amongst members of the general public. Such a tool would enable researchers to study individuals who may think like animal abusers or may be unapprehended offenders themselves. This paper presents the newly developed Animal Abuse Proclivity Scale (AAPS) and some preliminary findings. The results from our two studies show that: (1) the psychometric properties of the AAPS indicate that the scale is a highly reliable measure; (2) the AAPS relates to measures assessing offence-supportive attitudes and reflects the gender differences seen in the literature; and (3) the AAPS demonstrates cross-national validity. These findings support that the AAPS, similar to other offending proclivity measures, is a tool that can be used to examine the factors most related to animal abuse propensity. We discuss how the AAPS can contribute to future developments in theory and practice in the field.
Spruin, E., Alleyne, E., & Papadaki, I. (2015). Domestic abuse victims’ perceptions of abuse and support: a narrative study. Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice, 19-28. doi:10.1108/JCRPP-10-2014-0002
Purpose – While there is a large body of research exploring the various avenues of support for domestic abuse victims and the risk factors which put women at risk of victimization, there is little research exploring the perceptions of these women. The purpose of this paper is therefore to explore the personal views of victimized women; in particular, the risk factors that they believe put them at risk for abuse and what they feel support services should offer.
Design/methodology/approach – In total, 12 women were interviewed about their experiences of domestic violence. Interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis which resulted in three themes: first intimate relationship; quality of life; and supporting services.
Findings – The results from the analysis highlighted some prominent risk factors and, most importantly, emphasized the need for alternative forms of support. Overall, the findings provide an innovative way of viewing domestic violence by understanding it through victim’s narratives, which can further aid to inform current support services within the UK and elsewhere.
Research limitations/implications – The quality of life around the time of abuse is a factor that should be explored further in relation to the victimization of women.
Practical implications – Ambivalent first sexual encounters may be an important risk factor for future relationship violence.
Social implications – Support services for domestically abused women need to offer more internal support for vocational and educational services.
Originality/value – There is little research exploring the personal views and perceptions of victimized women, in particular, the risk factors that they believe put them at risk for domestic abuse and what they feel support services should offer. The value of this research is therefore founded in the exploring this gap in literature and provide victims with a voice to aid researchers in understanding domestic abuse from another perspective. Investigating a victim’s personal account is one pathway into beginning to understand the underlying thought processes and beliefs they attach to an event. If themes within a personal narrative account could be identified within victims of domestic abuse, it may allow a new aetiological perspective to develop in regard to the understanding and needs of abused women.
Alleyne, E., Wood, J., Mozova, K., & James, M. (2014). Psychological and behavioral characteristics that distinguish street gang members in custody. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 21, 266-285. doi:10.1111/lcrp.12072
Purpose. Using social dominance theory, the primary aim of this study was to examine the attitudes and beliefs that reinforce status hierarchies and facilitate aggressive behavior within and between gangs. The aim was also to determine whether these socio-cognitive processes distinguished gang-involved youth from non-gang offenders in a custodial setting.
Methods. Gang-involved youth and non-gang offenders were recruited from a Young Offender Institution (YOI) located in the United Kingdom. Questionnaires assessing psychological (i.e., moral disengagement strategies, anti-authority attitudes, hypermasculinity, and social dominance orientation) and behavioral (i.e., group crime) characteristics were administered individually. We hypothesized that gang-involved youth would be affiliated with groups who engaged in more criminal activity than non-gang offenders, and that they would report higher levels of endorsements than non-gang youth across all of the psychological measures.
Results. We found that gang-involved youth were affiliated with groups who engage in more crimes than non-gang offenders. We also found that social dominance orientation was an important factor related to gang involvement along with measures assessing group-based hierarchies such as hypermasculinity, anti-authority attitudes, and the moral disengagement strategies displacement of responsibility, dehumanization, and euphemistic labelling.
Conclusions. These findings fit within a social dominance theoretical framework as they highlight key psychological factors that feed into perceived status-driven hierarchies that distinguish gang members from other types of offenders. These factors could be key to developments in treatment provision within custodial settings.
Wood, J., Alleyne, E., Mozova, K., & James, M. (2014). Predicting involvement in prison gang activity: Street gang membership, social and psychological factors. Law and Human Behavior, 38, 203-211. doi:10.1037/lhb0000053
The aim of this study was to examine whether street gang membership, psychological factors, and social factors such as pre-prison experiences could predict young offenders’ involvement in prison gang activity. Data were collected via individual interviews with 188 young offenders held in a Young Offenders Institution in the United Kingdom. Results showed that psychological factors such as the value individuals attached to social status, a social dominance orientation, and anti authority attitudes were important in predicting young offenders’ involvement in prison gang activity. Further important predictors included pre-imprisonment events such as levels of threat, levels of individual delinquency, and levels of involvement in group crime. Longer current sentences also predicted involvement in prison gang activity. However, street gang membership was not an important predictor of involvement in prison gang activity. These findings have implications for identifying prisoners involved in prison gang activity, and for considering the role of psychological factors and group processes in gang research.
Alleyne, E., Gannon, T., Ó Ciardha, C., & Wood, J. (2014). Community males show multiple-perpetrator rape proclivity: Development and Preliminary Validation of an interest scale. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 26, 82-104. doi:10.1177/1079063213480819
The literature on Multiple Perpetrator Rape (MPR) is scant; however, a significant proportion of sexual offending involves multiple perpetrators. In addition to the need for research with apprehended offenders of MPR, there is also a need to conduct research with members of the general public. Recent advances in the forensic literature have led to the development of self-report proclivity scales. These scales have enabled researchers to conduct evaluative studies sampling from members of the general public who may be perpetrators of sexual offenses and have remained undetected, or at highest risk of engaging in sexual offending. The current study describes the development and preliminary validation of the Multiple-Perpetrator Rape Interest Scale (M-PRIS), a vignette-based measure assessing community males' sexual arousal to MPR, behavioral propensity toward MPR and enjoyment of MPR. The findings show that the M-PRIS is a reliable measure of community males' sexual interest in MPR with high internal reliability and temporal stability. In a sample of university males we found that a large proportion (66%) did not emphatically reject an interest in MPR. We also found that rape-supportive cognitive distortions, antisocial attitudes, and high-risk sexual fantasies were predictors of sexual interest in MPR. We discuss these findings and the implications for further research employing proclivity measures referencing theory development and clinical practice.
Ó Ciardha, C., Barnoux, M., Alleyne, E., Tyler, N., Mozova, K., & Gannon, T. (2014). Multiple factors in the assessment of firesetters’ fire interest and attitudes. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 20, 37-47. doi:10.1111/lcrp.12065
The number of measures available to practitioners to assess fire interest and other fire-related attitudes is limited. To help establish the utility of such measures, this study explored whether three fire measures contained multiple factors and whether such factors related to firesetting behaviour.
The Fire Interest Rating Scale, the Fire Attitude Scale, and the Identification with Fire Questionnaire were administered to 234 male prisoners (117 firesetters, 117 non-firesetters) and results were factor analyzed. To determine the relationship of the resulting factors with firesetting behaviour, their ability to discriminate firesetters from controls was examined and compared to the original scales.
Responses were best represented by five factors, four of which discriminated firesetters from non-firesetters. One factor demonstrated significant accuracy in discriminating single offence firesetters from repeat firesetters. Taken together the factors offered more clarity than using the original scale outcomes and showed equivalent predictive accuracy.
The five factors identified may aid practitioners in helping to formulate the specific treatment needs of identified firesetters.
Alleyne, E., Fernandes, I., & Pritchard, E. (2014). Denying humanness to victims: How gang members justify violent behavior. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 17, 750-762. doi:10.1177/1368430214536064
The high prevalence of violent offending amongst gang-involved youth has been established in the literature. Yet the underlying psychological mechanisms that enable youth to engage in such acts of violence remain unclear. 189 young people were recruited from areas in London, UK, known for their gang activity. We found that gang members, in comparison to non-gang youth, described the groups they belong to as having recognized leaders, specific rules and codes, initiation rituals, and special clothing. Gang members were also more likely than non-gang youth to engage in violent behavior and endorse moral disengagement strategies (i.e., moral justification, euphemistic language, advantageous comparison, displacement of responsibility, attribution of blame, and dehumanization). Finally, we found that dehumanizing victims partially mediated the relationship between gang membership and violent behavior. These findings highlight the effects of groups at the individual level and an underlying psychological mechanism that explains, in part, how gang members engage in violence.
Gannon, T., Ó Ciardha, C., Barnoux, M., Tyler, N., Mozova, K., & Alleyne, E. (2013). Male Imprisoned Firesetters Have Different Characteristics than Other Imprisoned Offenders and Require Specialist Treatment. Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes, 76, 349-364. doi:10.1521/psyc.2013.76.4.349
Objective: This study investigated whether a group of firesetters (n = 68) could be distinguished, psychologically, from a matched group of non-firesetting offenders (n = 68). Method: Participants completed measures examining psychological variables relating to fire, emotional/ self-regulation, social competency, self-concept, boredom proneness, and impression management. Official prison records were also examined to record offending history and other offense-related variables. A series of MANOVAs were conducted with conceptually related measures identified as the dependent variables. Follow up discriminant function and clinical cut-off score analyses were also conducted to examine the best discriminating variables for firesetters. Results: Firesetters were clearly distinguishable, statistically, from non-firesetters on three groups of conceptually related measures relating to: fire, emotional/self-regulation, and self-concept. The most successful variables for the discrimination of firesetters determined via statistical and clinical significance testing were higher levels of anger-related cognition, interest in serious fires, and identification with fire and lower levels of perceived fire safety awareness, general self-esteem, and external locus of control. Conclusions: Firesetters appear to be a specialist group of offenders who hold unique psychological characteristics. Firesetters are likely to require specialist treatment to target these psychological needs as opposed to generic offending behavior programs.
Gannon, T., & Alleyne, E. (2013). Female Sexual Abusers’ Cognition: A Systematic Review. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 14, 67-79. doi:doi:10.1177/1524838012462245
Until recently, the sexual offending literature focused on male perpetrators and neglected to examine the characteristics of female perpetrators. As a result, treatment provision for female sexual abusers has been either nonexistent or inappropriately adapted from programs designed for males. What we do know is that male and female sexual abusers share similarities; however, there remain distinct differences that warrant empirical and theoretical study. The current review systematically examines the literature on offense-supportive cognition in female sexual abusers. The aim of this systematic review is to aid clinical practitioners who work with female sexual abusers by providing an evaluation of current available research regarding implicit theories, rape myth acceptance, violence-supportive cognition, gender stereotypes, beliefs about sex, and empathy. We conclude that further research examining the offense-supportive cognition of female sexual abusers is needed in order to facilitate more effective empirically driven clinical practice.
Alleyne, E., & Wood, J. (2012). Gang-related crime: The social, psychological and behavioural correlates. Psychology, Crime & Law, 19, 611-627. doi:DOI:10.1080/1068316X.2012.658050
This study examined the behavioral, social and psychological factors associated
with gang-related crime. By comparing group crime committed by non-gang
youth and gang members, this study sought to identify the kinds of criminal
activity gang members engage in and identify the specific characteristics that
differentiate gang-related crime from other group crimes. We found that gangs
map out their territory with graffiti and intimidate others via threats. We also
found that high levels of individual delinquency and the presence of neighborhood
gangs were significant predictors of gang-related crime. Contrary to our
expectations, the perceived importance of social status, moral disengagement and
anti-authority attitudes did not predict gang-related crime; however, further
analyses showed that the perceived importance of social status and high levels of
moral disengagement predicted gang-related crime with anti-authority attitudes
acting as mediator. These findings highlight a need to examine more closely, the
psychological and social factors that contribute to gang membership and gangrelated
Gannon, T., Ó Ciardha, C., Doley, R., & Alleyne, E. (2011). The Multi-Trajectory Theory of Adult Firesetting (M-TTAF). Aggression and Violent Behavior. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2011.08.001
The assessment and treatment of adults who set fires deliberately are underdeveloped relative to other areas of forensic-clinical psychology. From a scientist–practitioner perspective, all clinical assessment and treatment should be guided by a theoretical and empirically based understanding of the presenting clinical phenomena. In this paper, we critically review current typologies, motives, and theories regarding the etiological features of deliberate adult firesetting. Then, using a theory knitting perspective, we synthesize the prime parts of this information into a comprehensive multifactorial framework of deliberate firesetting. The resulting Multi-Trajectory Theory of Adult Firesetting (M-TTAF) is an integration of current theory, typological, and research knowledge into a comprehensive etiological theory of firesetting along with its maintenance, and desistence. In addition to this overall theoretical framework, we summarize five associated prototypical firesetting trajectories (or patterns of characteristics leading to the firesetting behavior) that stem from our theoretical work. We examine this new theory according to key evaluative components associated with theory construction and conclude by highlighting the M-TTAF's potential application in future research and practice innovation with adult firesetters.
Alleyne, E., & Wood, J. (2011). Gang involvement: Social and environmental factors. Crime and Delinquency. doi:10.1177/0011128711398029
This study examines some of the individual, social, and environmental factors that differentiate gang-involved youth (both gang members and peripheral youth) and non-gang youth in a British setting. We found that gang-involved youth were more likely than non-gang youth to be older, and individual delinquency and neighborhood gangs predicted gang involvement. Using structural equation modelling we examined the relationships between social/environmental factors and gang involvement. As a result, we found that parental management, deviant peer pressure, and commitment to school had indirect relationships with gang involvement. These findings are discussed as they highlight a need to address the mechanisms in which protective and risk factors function collectively.
Alleyne, E., & Wood, J. (2010). Gang involvement: Psychological and Behavioral Characteristics of Gang Members, Peripheral Youth, and Nongang Youth. Aggressive Behavior, 36, 423-436. doi:10.1002/ab.20360
Research has noted the existence of a loose and dynamic gang structure. However, the psychological processes that underpin gang membership have only begun to be addressed. This study examined gang members, peripheral youth, and non-gang youth across measures of criminal activity, the importance they attach to status, their levels of moral disengagement, their perceptions of out-group threat, and their attitudes toward authority. Of the seven hundred and ninety eight high school students who participated in this study, 59 were identified as gang members, 75 as peripheral youth and 664 as non-gang youth. Gang members and peripheral youth were more delinquent than non-gang youth overall, however, gang members committed more minor offenses than non-gang youth and peripheral youth committed more violent offenses than non-gang youth. Gang members were more anti-authority than non-gang youth, and both gang and peripheral youth valued social status more than non-gang youth. Gang members were also more likely to blame their victims for their actions and use euphemisms to sanitize their behavior than non-gang youth; whereas peripheral youth were more likely than non-gang youth to displace responsibility onto their superiors. These findings are discussed as they highlight the importance of examining individual differences in the cognitive processes that relate to gang involvement.
Wood, J., & Alleyne, E. (2010). Street gang theory and research: Where are we now and where do we go from here?. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 15, 100-111. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2009.08.005
Recent years have seen an upsurge of attention paid to street gangs as scholars and criminal justice officials strive to understand and counteract the effects of gang membership. Yet, despite a wealth of theoretical frameworks and empirical findings, even fundamental issues such as an agreed definition continue to elude us. We consider some of the most influential theoretical frameworks and associated empirical findings and find that as it stands, our knowledge on gangs is still limited and rather muddy. We suggest that future directions should adopt a more multidisciplinary approach to the study of gangs. To this end, we argue that there is a role for psychology in this important body of work, and that its involvement will provide us with a deeper and more meaningful understanding of gangs and the youth who join them.