Professor Jane Wood
Professor Jane Wood is a Professor of Forensic Psychology, Chartered Forensic Psychologist and Deputy Director of the Centre of Research and Education in Forensic Psychology
- Prison gang activity
- Street gang formation and activity
- Bullying in prison and schools
- Public opinion of criminal justice
- Trauma/Mental health links with offending
Current research students
- Hayley Beresford: Trauma exposure and mental illness in gang-affiliated youth: An exploratory study
- Jaimee Mallion: TBA
- Sarah Osman: Violent thugs or vulnerable youth? Reshaping how we think of gang members: An examination into their emotional and mental health needs
Past research students
- Dr Emma Alleyne: Gang membership: An exploration of the psychological characteristics
- Dr Mark James: Understanding gang membership: Developing theory and applications
- Dr Katarina Mozova: Towards a social psychology framework of youth group membership: An exploratory study
Grants and Awards
|2017||J Wood (PI), T Gannon (Co-I), C Ó Ciardha (Co-I) & E Alleyne (Co-I) |
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Cumbria
"Evaluating polygraph use for managing sexual offenders and suspects in five police areas"
1.7.17 to 30.6.19
|2010||T Gannon, J Wood, A Pina & E Vasquez|
Ministry of Justice
"Evaluation of mandatory polygraph supervision with sexual offenders"
"The IOM 'Through the Gate' Project for Short-term Prisoners (Under 12 month sentences), Statutory and Non-statutory Probation offenders in Kent & Medway"
30.09.10 to 31.03.11
Kent Probation, Kent Drug and Alcohol Action Team
"Integrated services for managing prolific offenders: a longitudinal perspective"
"Judging offenders: the role of observers' emotions"
Kent and Medway Resettlement Programme
H M Prison Service, Canterbury
Kent and Medway Resettlement Programme
H M Prison Service
Esme Fairburn Charitable Trust
- HCPC Registered Forensic Psychologist
- Member of Editorial Board, British Journal of Forensic Practice
- Managing Editor for Psychology, Crime and Law
- Lead Editor - Wood, J., Gannon, T. A., (2008). Public Opinion and Criminal Justice. Willan Publishing.
- Lead Editor - Wood, J. L., & Giles, H. (2014) Special Issue: Gangs: Group and intergroup dimensions. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 17(6), 701-832
Showing 50 of 109 total publications in the Kent Academic Repository. View all publications.
Frisby-Osman, S., & Wood, J. (2020). Rethinking how we view gang members: An examination into affective, behavioral, and mental health predictors of UK gang-involved youth. Youth Justice, Online. doi:10.1177/1473225419893779Mental health difficulties, conduct problems, and emotional maladjustment predict a range of negative outcomes, and this may include gang involvement. However, few studies have examined how behavioral, mental health, socio-cognitive, and emotional factors all relate to adolescent gang involvement. This study examined 91 adolescents to compare non-gang and gang-involved youth on their conduct problems, emotional distress, guilt proneness, anxiety and depression, and use of moral disengagement and rumination. Analyses revealed that gang-involved youth had higher levels of anxiety, depression, moral disengagement, and rumination. Gang-involved youth also had higher levels of conduct disorder and exposure to violence, but they did not differ from non-gang youth on levels of emotional distress and guilt proneness. Discriminant function analysis further showed that conduct problems, moral disengagement, and rumination were the most important predictors of gang involvement. Discussion focuses on how intervention and prevention efforts to tackle gang involvement need to consider the mental health and behavioral needs of gang-involved youth. Further research is also needed to build an evidence-base that identifies the cause/effect relationship between mental health and gang involvement to inform best practice when tackling gang membership.
Stevens, E., & Wood, J. (2019). I Despise Myself for Thinking about Them: A Thematic Analysis of the Mental Health Implications and Employed Coping Mechanisms of Self-Reported Non Offending Minor Attracted Persons. The Journal of Child Sexual Abuse. doi:10.1080/10538712.2019.1657539‘Non-offending pedophiles’ or ‘minor-attracted persons’ are individuals who suppress an attraction to children. Previous analyses of this population’s mental illness employed overt self-report methods, limited by social desirability. Additionally, studies assessing the coping mechanisms employed to remain offense-free are underpowered; understanding of these would facilitate the rehabilitation of prior offenders. A thematic analysis of coping mechanisms and mental illness was conducted on 5,210 posts on the ‘Virtuous Pedophiles’ forum. Four themes emerged for coping mechanisms: Managing risk and attraction to children, Managing mood, Managing preferences prosocially and Friends, family and relationships, with 13 subthemes. Five themes emerged for mental illhealth, including: Addiction, Anxiety, Depression, Self-hatred/Selfharm/ Suicide and Other. Self-hatred/Self-harm/Suicide accounted for almost a third of discussed mental ill-health. These results highlight the severity of mental ill-health amongst this population and the coping mechanisms employed to remain offense-free.
Wood, J. (2019). Confronting gang membership and youth violence: Intervention challenges and potential futures. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 29, 69-73. doi:10.1002/cbm.2113Evaluation of approaches and psychological obstacles to tackling youth gang involvement.
Mallion, J., & Wood, J. (2018). Emotional processes and gang membership: A narrative review. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 43, 56-63. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2018.10.001With implementation of governmental strategies aimed at reducing gang involvement, academic interest in gang membership has rapidly increased. However, there is a dearth of knowledge relating to emotional processes of gang members (Wood & Alleyne, 2010). This review synthesizes existing literature surrounding possible risk factors for gang membership including, empathy, Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD), Psychopathy, Callous-Unemotional (CU) traits, Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), and Emotional Intelligence (EI). Due to the limited evidence-base, additional literature surrounding violent offending and group relations are used to provide a comprehensive account of emotional processes of gang members. It is concluded that high levels of ASPD traits and low levels of empathy and EI are potential risk factors for gang membership. However, contradictory research findings, prevent conclusions regarding the influence of psychopathy, ODD and CU-traits on gang membership. Overall, this review provides support for utilizing emotion-focused strategies in gang intervention programs and recommends that future research focuses on assessing the developmental trajectory of emotional processes throughout the cycle of gang membership (joining, maintaining and exiting).
Osman, S., & Wood, J. (2018). Gang membership, Mental Illness, and Negative Emotionality: A Systematic Review of the Literature. International Journal of Forensic Mental Health, 17, 223-246. doi:10.1080/14999013.2018.1468366Gang-related violence poses detrimental consequences worldwide. Gang members suffer a range of adverse experiences, often as victims who then transition to adolescence and early adulthood as offenders. Such experiences may negatively affect their mental health. Yet, the relationship between gang membership and mental illness is, to date, not well understood. This systematic review synthesized the literature on gang member’s mental health and emotions. A two-part search strategy of electronic and hand searches, dated from: January 1980 – January 2017, was conducted. A total of n = 306 peer papers were included in a preliminary scoping review, of which n = 23, met the inclusion criteria and study outcomes. Narrative synthesis revealed how gang members may be at increased risk of suffering from mental illnesses and negative emotions, such as anger and rumination. Yet, synthesis showed that understanding remains limited regarding gang members’ experience of self-conscious emotions and how such emotions might link to persistent offending patterns and violence. The results suggest gang members may benefit from clinically tailored interventions to support their mental and emotional health. Clinical and research implications are discussed to inform future empirical, intervention, and prevention work with gang members and individuals at risk of gang involvement.
Mallion, J., & Wood, J. (2018). Comparison of Emotional Dispositions Between Street Gang and Non-Gang Prisoners. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. doi:10.1177/0886260518789147Effectively recognizing, identifying, and utilizing emotional stimuli is essential for successful social interactions, with deficits in these robustly identified as risk factors for offending. Psychological understanding of street gang membership is limited, particularly surrounding emotional dispositions distinguishing street gang from non-gang offenders. This study examined how street gang members compare with non-gang offenders on trait emotional intelligence (TEI), antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), callous–unemotional traits, anger rumination, and aggression. Recruited through volunteer sampling, participants included 73 (44 street gang and 29 non-gang) male offenders incarcerated at a U.K. Category C prison. Participants completed seven questionnaires assessing emotional dispositions, social desirability, and, consistent with the Eurogang definition, street gang membership. To compare participants’ demographics and identify the predictors of street gang membership, chi-square and discriminant function analyses were conducted. With a significant discriminant function, ? = .80, ?2(6) = 14.96, p = .021, high levels of ASPD, anger rumination, and aggression and low levels of TEI predict street gang membership. Compared with non-gang prisoners, street gang prisoners did not differ on callous–unemotional traits, age, or ethnicity. Results suggest that, compared with non-gang prisoners, street gang members were more likely to possess dysfunctional emotional dispositions. Findings from this research have important implications in terms of developing interventions for street gang membership. Specifically, this research supports the need for gang-specific early intervention and prevention programs, with emotion-focused components. Ideas for future research are discussed, including the identification of further sociocognitive, personality, and emotional traits distinguishing street gang from non-gang offenders.
Wood, J., Kallis, C., & Coid, J. (2017). Differentiating gang members, gang affiliates and violent men on their psychiatric morbidity and traumatic experiences. Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes, 80, 221-235. doi:10.1080/00332747.2016.1256144Objective: Little is known about the differences between gang members and gang affiliates—or those individuals who associate with gangs but are not gang members. Even less is known about how these groups compare with other violent populations. This study examined how gang members, gang affiliates, and violent men compare on mental health symptoms and traumatic experiences.
Method: Data included a sample of 1,539 adult males, aged 19 to 34 years, taken from an earlier survey conducted in the United Kingdom. Participants provided informed consent before completing questionnaires and were paid £5 for participation. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to compare participants’ symptoms of psychiatric morbidity and traumatic event exposure.
Results: Findings showed that, compared to violent men and gang affiliates, gang members had experienced more severe violence, sexual assaults, and suffered more serious/life-threatening injuries. Compared to violent men, gang members and gang affiliates had made more suicide attempts; had self-harmed more frequently; and had experienced more domestic violence, violence at work, homelessness, stalking, and bankruptcy. Findings further showed a decreasing gradient from gang members to gang affiliates to violent men in symptom levels of anxiety, antisocial personality disorder, pathological gambling, stalking others, and drug and/or alcohol dependence. Depression symptoms were similar across groups.
Conclusions: The identified relationship between gang membership, affiliation, and adverse mental health indicates that mental health in gang membership deserves more research attention. Findings also indicate that criminal justice strategies need to consider gang members’ mental health more fully, if gang membership is to be appropriately addressed and reduced.
Spruin, E., Wood, J., Gannon, T., & Tyler, N. (2017). Sexual offender’s experiences of polygraph testing: a thematic study in three probation trusts. Journal of Sexual Aggression. doi:10.1080/13552600.2017.1378025Post-conviction polygraph testing of sexual offenders is controversial and the use of the polygraph as a means of supporting supervision of sexual offenders has only recently been explored. This study examined qualitatively, offender managers’ and sexual offenders’ views on the mandatory use of the polygraph in community-based supervision. Fifteen polygraphed offenders and their ten offender managers (polygraph group), and ten non-polygraphed offenders and their ten offender managers (comparison group) were asked about their experiences and perceptions of mandatory polygraph use. Using thematic analysis, results provided four main themes: (1) truth detection, (2) perceptions of behavior change, (3) perceptions of polygraph as part of supervision and, (4) national implementation of polygraph testing. Results suggest several benefits to mandatory polygraph testing as a support for supervision, including: offenders making more high-risk disclosur
Wood, J., & Dennard, S. (2017). Gang membership: links to violence exposure, paranoia, PTSD, anxiety and forced control of behavior in prison. Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes, 80, 30-41. doi:10.1080/00332747.2016.1199185Objective: Gang membership inherently links to violence, and violent experiences strongly relate to PTSD, anxiety, and paranoia. Yet to date, gang members’ mental health has received little attention, and their paranoia has not been examined. This study, using established measures, assessed street gang and non-gang prisoners’ levels of: violence exposure, symptoms of PTSD, paranoia, and anxiety, forced behavioral control, and segregation in prison. Method: Participants were 65 (32 gang & 33 non-gang) prisoners, recruited using opportunity sampling. Participants provided informed consent, and were interviewed individually. Interviews were anonymized to maintain confidentiality. Chi Square and discriminant function analyses were used to compare participants’ demographics, segregation levels, mental health symptoms, and identify predictors of street gang membership. Results: As compared to non-gang prisoners, street gang prisoners have higher levels of exposure to violence, symptoms of paranoia, PTSD, anxiety, and forced control of their behavior in prison. Street gang prisoners were not more likely to be segregated, but they were more likely to belong to ethnic minorities. Street gang prisoners were only found to be younger than non-gang prisoners, when other variables were controlled for. Conclusions: Mental health deserves more attention in gang research. The implications of findings are that gang membership may undermine members’ mental health, and/or that individuals with existing mental health problems, may be those attracted to gang membership. Moreover, justice responses, via policies and intervention strategies, need to identify and address the mental health needs in gang member prisoners, if successful rehabilitation of gang members is to be achieved.
Alemohammad, M., Wood, J., Tapp, J., Moore, E., & Skelly, A. (2016). Support for the predictive validity of the Multifactor Offender Readiness Model (MORM): forensic patients’ readiness and engagement with therapeutic groups. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 27, 421-442. doi:10.1002/cbm.2008Background Treatment non-engagement in forensic settings has ethical and economic implications. The Multifactor Offender Readiness Model (MORM) proposes a framework for assessing treatment readiness across person, programme and contexts.
Research question: Are the internal factors of the MORM associated with whether forensic patients engage, complete, refuse or drop out of groupwork interventions?
Method: In a retrospective design, associations between internal factors of the MORM, measured as part of assessment for group participation, and the outcomes of treatment refusal, treatment dropout and treatment completion were investigated.
Results: 118 male high security hospital patients consecutively referred for group treatment agreed to participate. Internal factors of the MORM associated with treatment refusals included: psychopathic cognition, negative self-evaluation/affect and effective goal seeking strategies. Those associated with dropouts included emotional dysregulation, low competencies to engage and low levels of general distress. MORM factors associated with completion included: low motivation, ineffective goal seeking strategies, absence of psychopathic cognition, high levels of general distress and competency to engage.
Conclusions: Internal factors of the MORM could be useful contributors to decisions about treatment readiness for hospitalised male offender-patients. Up to one in three programmes offered were refused, so clinical use of the MORM to aid referral decisions could optimise the most constructive use of resources for every individual.
Beresford, H., & Wood, J. (2015). Patients or Perpetrators? The Effects of Trauma Exposure on Gang Members’ Mental Health: A Review of the Literature. Journal of Criminological Research, Practice and Policy, 2, 148 -159. doi:10.1108/JCRPP-05-2015-0015Given the portrayal of gang members as ‘super predators’, it is not surprising that much of the media and scholarly attention, to date, has focused on gang members as perpetrators of violence with little attention paid to their role as victims and their psychological wellbeing (Bennett et al., 1996). In this review we evaluate and synthesize theory and research relating to the relationship between gang membership and mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The scarcity of research on this topic leads us to draw from research other than gang research to theorize links to build a clearer picture of the psychological consequences of belonging to a gang. We conclude that gang members' involvement in violence (as victims and perpetrators) is likely to have a negative impact on their behavioral, social and psychological functioning. We suggest future directions should be aimed towards developing and honing a robust program of research capable of producing evidence-based assessment and intervention strategies for tackling gang membership.
Dickens, T., & Wood, J. (2015). Severe child physical abuse: A psychological research agenda. Journal of Investigating Child Death, 1, 13-31. Retrieved from http://clok.uclan.ac.uk/11679/1/Journal%20of%20Investigating%20Child%20deaths.pdf#page=20Severe child physical abuse is considered more prevalent than statistics indicate,
at least 1-2 children are documented to die at the hands of a parent/carer each
week in the UK. Records indicate that approximately 60% of these offenders are
male (Sidebotham, Brandon, Bailey & Belderson, 2011; Sinal et al, 2000).
Children living with unrelated males are more than 50 times more likely to die
than those who reside with both biological parents (Missouri, Schnitzer &
Ewigman, 2005). A paucity of research exists to understand the psychological
pathways of these male offenders. This article suggests a psychological agenda to
examine the pathways of these perpetrators. Discussion focuses on the value of
examining specifically the belief systems (cognitive distortions); personality traits;
impulsivity; self-esteem; empathy and attachment styles of this offender group.
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.12072Purpose. 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., & Giles, H. (2014). Special Issue: Gangs: Group and intergroup dimensions. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 17, 701-832.
Wood, J. (2014). Understanding gang membership: The significance of group processes. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 17, 710-729. doi:10.1177/1368430214550344Gang researchers have robustly established that gangs facilitate increased delinquency in members – even those who were prolifically delinquent before joining a gang (Klein, Weerman & Thornberry, 2006). This suggests that there is something about gang membership, specifically, that influences individuals in a pro-criminal direction. However, so far it is not clear what this influence is. This paper, taking a social psychological perspective on gang membership considers the potential influence that group processes exert on gang members to conform to group norms, to become cohesive and to strive to acquire group goals - such as status. It further speculates that adherence to group norms may cultivate gang members’ social cognitions such as moral disengagement, offense supportive cognitions and rumination. Conclusions note how group processes deserve closer research attention due to their potential for informing more accurate gang interventions to deter potential members and to reduce existing gang membership.
Wood, J., & Giles, H. (2014). Group and intergroup parameters of gang activities: An introduction and research agenda. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 17, 704-709. doi:doi: 10.1177/1368430214548620In introducing this Special Issue on gangs, we overview the thrust of its papers, demonstrating how they
assist in plugging research gaps from the dearth of psychological attention to gangs. The papers therein
raise important theoretical considerations of group process effects, social identity, and communication
influences in gangs. Also included are empirical examinations of how attitudes to formal organized
crime groups may nurture progang views, how social networks bridge gang divides, the dehumanization
and social dominance association with gang membership, and how membership longevity associates
with gang members’ attitudes to their group. We conclude with theoretical prospects and empirical
vistas for future work. For instance, vitality theory may help explain members’ immersion in gangs,
discursive strategies could explain how youth are enticed into gangs, and examinations of community
and law enforcement attitudes to gangs may provide insight into how oppositional attitudes are
fostered on both sides of the gang divide.
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/lhb0000053The 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.
Gannon, T., Wood, J., Pina, A., Tyler, N., Barnoux, M., & Vasquez, E. (2014). An Evaluation of Mandatory Polygraph Testing for Sexual Offenders in the United Kingdom. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 26, 178-203. doi:10.1177/1079063213486836Objective: This research examined whether a government-initiated pilot project of mandatory polygraph testing would increase the disclosures made by community-supervised sexual offenders in the UK. Method: The Offender Managers of 332 pilot polygraph sexual offenders and 303 sexual offenders who were receiving usual community supervision were telephoned quarterly, over a 21 month period, to collect information about numbers of clinically relevant disclosures, the seriousness of disclosures made, and actions taken as a result of disclosures. Perceptions of polygraph usefulness were also collected. Results: Offender Managers in the pilot polygraph group—compared to comparison Offender Managers—reported (1) a higher proportion of offenders making at least one disclosure (i.e., 76.5% versus 51.2% respectively), and (2) that their offenders made more total disclosures overall (Ms = 2.60 versus 1.25 respectively). The majority of disclosures made by sexual offenders in the polygraph group were associated with the polygraph session itself. Polygraph Offender Managers reported being more likely to take an action that involved increasing supervision, informing a third party, informing MAPPA, changing supervision focus, or issuing a warning to the offender. However, the relative seriousness of disclosures did not appear to differ across groups. In terms of polygraph test results, one third of offenders (most notably those who were higher in risk) failed their first test with ‘Deception Indicated’. This outcome—received on a first test—was most likely to elicit clinically relevant disclosures. Offender Managers described the polygraph as aiding supervision strategies. Conclusions: This research and its associated caveats are discussed.
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:10.1177/1079063213480819The 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.
Wood, J., James, M., & Ó Ciardha, C. (2014). ’I know how they must feel’: Empathy and judging defendants. The European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context, 6, 37-43. doi:10.5093/ejpalc2014a5The current study investigated the effects of state and trait empathy in legal judgments and tested the relationship between trait and state emotion in one hundred and fifty eight students aged 18–59. Assessments were taken of participants’ trait empathy and then state empathy was induced in half the sample. Following this all participants read a trial transcript and made judgments regarding: the verdict decision; the defendant's responsibility for the offense; what would be an appropriate punishment; the likelihood that the offender would offend in the future; and whether the defendant felt remorse for committing the offense. Findings showed that both trait and state empathy predicted attributions of offender remorse. State empathy also predicted judgments of offender responsibility and agreement with verdict decisions in a lenient direction. Findings also showed that state and trait empathy did not interact. The results indicate that trait and state empathy work independently to influence legal judgments and that inducing empathy in decision-makers can impact on trial outcomes above and beyond the facts of the case.
Wood, J., Alleyne, E., & Beresford, H. (2016). Deterring gangs : Criminal justice approaches and psychological influences. In Advances in psychology and law (Vol. 2, pp. 305-336). Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-43083-6_10In spite of criminal justice efforts to deter gang membership, gangs appear to be flourishing. This leaves justice systems struggling to devise effective strategies to deter gangs and reduce their impact on communities. This chapter outlines a number of gang deterrence strategies employed by the USA and UK and offers psychological explanations as to why they may not be effective. It begins by examining the theoretical perspectives of general and individual deterrence. It then evaluates the deterrence effects of suppression, and multi-faceted anti-gang programs along with the impact of policies such as gang injunctions and joint enterprise on gang membership. The chapter then moves on to consider some of the psychological explanations as to why criminal justice anti-gang tactics may be ineffective. It considers the need of gang members to forge an identity and how identifying with a gang can impact on members’ behavior. It outlines how pluralistic ignorance may underpin members’ adherence to a gang’s social norms, how members’ ability to morally disengage may ameliorate their feelings of cognitive dissonance, and how group commitment and cohesion may be constructed. The role of reputation and status enhancement are also explored as influential in gang members’ responses to deterrence strategies, and it is considered how deterrence strategies may backfire to foster an oppositional culture in gang members. The chapter concludes by calling for more psychological research into how group processes in gang membership may inoculate gang members from even the most concerted criminal justice efforts to deter them.
Wood, J., Alleyne, E., & Beresford, H. (2016). Deterring Gangs: Criminal Justice Approaches & Psychological Perspectives. In Advances in Psychology and Law (Vol. 2, pp. 305-336). Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-43083-6_10Abstract
In spite of criminal justice efforts to deter gang membership, gangs appear to be flourishing. This leaves justice systems struggling to devise effective programs and policies that will contain the disturbing menace that gangs pose to communities. The first part of this chapter considers how deterrence works on general and individual levels. It then moves on to evaluate the use of suppression and multi-faceted anti-gang programs and considers the success of policies such as gang injunctions and joint enterprise as strategies to deter gang membership and activity. In the second section this chapter contemplates some of the psychological explanations as to why criminal justice anti-gang tactics may not work with gang members. It examines the influence of social identity, pluralistic ignorance, moral disengagement and its potential for reducing cognitive dissonance, group commitment and cohesion, reputation and status enhancement and the potential that criminal justice gang-reduction strategies have for feeding an oppositional culture in gang members. The chapter concludes by calling for more psychological research that considers how group processes in gang membership may inoculate gang members from even the most concerted criminal justice efforts to deter their behavior.
Wood, J. (2015). Why gang members commit more crime: Group processes and social cognitive explanations. In Forensic Psychology (pp. 353-369). UK: Wiley-Blackwell. Retrieved from http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1118757785.htmlThat gangs facilitate increased levels of deviancy in members is a consistent research finding. However, it is not fully clear why this is so. This chapter seeks to explain this effect by examining first the likely impact that group processes have on gang members and second the likely social cognitive effects that gang membership is likely to elicit. It concludes by noting the importance of psychology in gang membership and how psychologists need to develop further research to explain the specifics of gang membership as it impacts on youth.
Wood, J., & Alleyne, E. (2013). Street gangs: Group processes and theoretical explanations. In Crime and crime reduction: The importance of group processes (pp. 34-55). London New York: Routledge.
Conference or workshop item
Wood, J. (2017). Evaluating police use of polygraph, Management of Sexual Offenders and Violent Offenders. In Management of Sexual Offenders and Violent Offenders (MOSOVO) Conference. Cumbria, UK.Evaluating the polygraph and how it works, results and future directions
Wood, J. (2017). The Psychology of gang membership: What we know so far. In Investigator Conference. Hitchin, Hertfordshire.Outlining the psychology of gang membership and how this relates to police strategies for tackling gang membership
Wood, J. (2017). Understanding the Psychology of gang membership. In Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues conference. Canterbury, Kent.Developing a theory of the psychology of gang membership
Osman, S., & Wood, J. (2017). Interventions to tackle stigma and discrimination in relation to youth mental health. In ESRC Seminar. Nottingham.
Osman, S., & Wood, J. (2017). Is It Just A Case Of MAD and BAD?. In Investigator Conference. Hitchin, Hertfordshire.
Osman, S., & Wood, J. (2017). The effects of gang membership on self-conscious emotions, mental ill health, victimisation and violence: A systematic review of the literature. In International Association of Forensic Mental Health Services (IAFMHS) Conference. Croatia.
Wood, J. (2016). Gang membership: constructing a psychological perspective. In The Division of Forensic Psychology Annual conference. Brighton, Sussex.The development of a theory of the psychology of gang membership
Wood, J. (2015). Prisoner groups: Formation, function and gang-related activity. In . London, UK.How gangs operate and their group process effects on individuals
Wood, J. (2014). How gang members think: social cognitive perspectives. In London student conference. London UK.
Wood, J. (2014). How gang members think: social cognitive perspectives. In Open University. London, UK.The social cognitive processes that underpin gang membership
Wood, J. (2014). How gang members think: social cognitive perspectives. In . London, UK.The psychological underpinnings of gang membership
Wood, J. (2013). Effects of gang membership in individuals: A social cognitive perspective. In Forensic Psychiatry Research Unit, William Harvey House, St Bart’s Hospital. London, UK.The influence of gang membership on individuals' thoughts, beliefs and behaviour
Wood, J. (2013). Predicting involvement in prison gang activity: Street gang membership, social and psychological factors. In Eurogang (XIIV),. Canterbury, Kent.
Wood, J. L. (Ed.). (2016). Gang membership in prison and community contexts. Journal of Criminological Research, Practice and Policy, 2, 81-159. Retrieved from http://www.emeraldinsight.com/toc/jcrpp/2/2This special issue on gangs takes a multi-disciplinary perspective to bring together some of the most recent and relevant topics in the area. As such, it includes current cutting-edge research and multi-method approaches to highlight key issues relevant to examining and responding to gangs. Articles include empirical research alongside meta-analytical and theoretical perspectives. Topics covered include gang organization in prison, gang members as victims, criminal justice responses to gangs, characteristics of gang-involved females, a meta-analytical examination of gang prevention programs and a review of research examining gangs and mental health.
Wood, J. L., & Giles, H. (Eds.). (2014). Gangs: Group and intergroup dimensions. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 17, 701-832. Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/toc/gpia/17/6In this Special Issue on gangs, we overview the thrust of its papers, demonstrating how they assist in plugging research gaps from the dearth of psychological attention to gangs. The papers therein raise important theoretical considerations of group process effects, social identity, and communication influences in gangs. Also included are empirical examinations of how attitudes to formal organized crime groups may nurture pro-gang views, how social networks bridge gang divides, the de-humanization and social dominance association with gang membership, and how membership longevity associates with gang members’ attitudes to their group. We conclude with theoretical prospects and empirical vistas for future work. For instance, vitality theory may help explain members’ immersion in gangs, discursive strategies could explain how youth are enticed into gangs and examinations of community and law enforcement attitudes to gangs may provide insight into how oppositional attitudes are fostered on both sides of the gang divide.
Research report (external)
Wood, J., Mozova, K., Vasquez, E., & Alleyne, E. (2016). The evaluation of Neighbourhood Responsibility Panels: Final Report. NA.This report provides an evaluation of support provided by Neighbourhood Responsibility Panels (NRP) to vulnerable clients conducted from July, 2015 to June, 2016.
The University of Kent was commissioned to formally evaluate the NRP support of clients for one year from July 2015 to June 2016. The evaluation described in this report refers to clients referred to NRP during that period.
The cut-off point for this report was June 30th 2016 and so data included in this report reflects an evaluation of NRP up until that date.
Wood, J., Mozova, K., Vasquez, E., & Alleyne, E. (2016). The evaluation of Neighbourhood Responsibility Panels Interim Report. NA.This preliminary report provides an evaluation of support provided by Neighbourhood Responsibility Panels (NRP) to vulnerable clients conducted in July, September, October, November and December, 2015. The University of Kent was commissioned to formally evaluate the NRP support of clients for one year from July 2015 to July 2016. The evaluation described in this interim report refers to clients referred to NRP during the first six months of that period. The cut-off point for this report is December 31st 2015 and so data included in this report reflects an evaluation of NRP up until that date.
Mozova, K. (2017). Ties in Gangs: Exploration of Perceived Group Processes in Gang Membership.Gang membership is a global phenomenon and a problem affecting a multitude of official and unofficial agencies, often reported by the media and causing overwhelming financial strain, as well as increasing fear of crime in communities. Whilst research on gangs has enjoyed popularity for almost a century now, this was mostly based on a criminological perspective, which did not provide a holistic picture for practitioners. Specifically, little is known about the psychology of gang membership, as such research is still in its infancy. Moreover, calls for understanding the social psychological motives for gang membership - such as gang members' perceptions of group processes, and how these influence individuals - have been present for the last 50 years but development in the area has been limited.
The aim of this thesis was to address some of this crucial gap in our knowledge of gang membership, to help enrich theoretical understanding, as well as prevention and rehabilitation strategies, so that these can be appropriately developed. In order for this to happen, it is key to understand which group processes lie behind gang membership based on gang members' subjective experiences, in different types of gang members, and how these relate to members' decisions to join and remain with a gang. The core assumption of gangs - that they are groups - has been largely neglected by research. The studies in this thesis provide the first holistic picture of the relevance of group processes in gang membership. The first, qualitative study, identified that group processes regularly manifesting in groups do, indeed, also manifest in gangs. It was also found that such group processes are understood by gang members in a manner specific to them. Further, the perceived group processes manifested differently at different stages of membership - when joining a gang and when remaining in a gang. The large quantitative studies that follow revealed that gangs differ from non-gang delinquent groups, and that different types of gang members differ in their perception of how group processes manifest. It was found that different types of groups and gangs were characterised by a specific set of perceived group processes. Further, these group process clusters differed, based on the stage of an individual's membership.
This thesis therefore uncovered that the area of social cognition based on group processes is important. The main conclusions drawn from the studies presented in this PhD are: 1) Group processes manifest in gangs and are perceived in a specific manner. 2) The perception of group processes differ in gangs and other delinquent groups, and between different types of gang members. 3) There are specific clusters of perceived group processes which characterise specific types of groups and at different stages of membership - group processes should not be dealt with in isolation. 4) The findings show that how gang members perceive group processes should be a key consideration in future research and any intervention strategies designed for gang members.
James, M. (2015). How Do You Tell a “Weasel” From a “Fraggle”? Developing an explanatory model of differential gang membership: A grounded theoretical approach.Once labelled as a “gang member”, young people may be subject to gang stereotypes, losing their individuality. However, gang membership is varied, with (at the most basic level) a distinction between Core (i.e. those forming a deep commitment to their gang) and Fringe gang members (i.e. those tending to drift in and out of gang membership). To date, multiple theories have attempted to explain why some people join gangs and others do not. However, no dedicated theory has attempted to explain why some gang members become Cores while others become Fringes. The research described in this thesis set out to uncover (psychological, sociological, and criminological) differences between Core and Fringe gang members, and devise a theoretical framework capable of explaining varied gang commitment. Interview data from 20 incarcerated Core and Fringe gang members were subject to Grounded Theory analysis (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). The key difference between Cores and Fringes was their exposure to pro-social peers – all described membership of pro- and anti-social/gang peer groups, however, Cores ultimately reject pro-social peers in favour of anti-social/gang peers, while Fringes actively maintain commitment to both. This effect was influenced by perceived differences in: stability of family structure and bonds; success or failure in mainstream education; the experience and expression of emotional reactions and empathy; early-years transience and the perception of social neglect; locus of control and blame attribution; and, impression management via social comparison processes. Reactions to disappointment determined whether Fringes’ commitment to pro- or anti-social peers was the more salient at any given time. Cores’ commitment to gang/anti-social peers was primarily motivated by a desire for excitement, material status, and/or social status. Fringes’ fluid commitment to pro-social and gang/anti-social peers was motivated by a desire for acceptance, (emotional) support, and role-models. Implications for gang risk assessment, prevention, and intervention are discussed.
Beresford, H., & Wood, J. (2017). Identifying links between trauma and gang members’ violence. In Investigator Conference. Hitchin, Hertfordshire.
Beresford, H., & Wood, J. (2017). Through the Trauma Lens: A Systematic Review of the Role of Trauma in the Development Internalizing and Externalizing Symptoms in At-risk and Gang-involved Males. Aggression and Violent Behavior.The purpose of this systematic review was to identify, evaluate and synthesize national and international studies that examine the relationship between trauma exposure and internalizing and externalizing symptoms in at-risk and gang-involved young males. There is an established and growing corpus of research examining the effects of trauma exposure in juvenile delinquents, but this does not include the specific study of gang members who – through their shared gang norms and links to violence – may be at greater risk of exposure to potentially traumatizing events (PTEs) and the adverse consequences associated with this e.g. mental health problems and violent crime. It is therefore important to apply what we know about the trauma sequelae of non-gang delinquents to inform and develop a program of research dedicated to mapping the trauma pathways of gang-involved males. To this end a systematic literature search was conducted utilizing Academic Search Complete, Criminal Justice Abstracts, Proquest Dissertations and Theses Global PubMed, PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES, Scopus, Web of Science (from the databases’ inception to 09/03/2016). The search yielded n = 52 peer-reviewed papers and n = 20 unpublished theses. A narrative synthesis revealed that trauma exposure is associated with negative internalizing and externalizing symptoms in both at-risk and gang-involved males. However, given the sparse research examining trauma and its consequences in gang members it is still too early to tell whether gang members' involvement in violence and subsequent trauma is a risk factor for membership or a consequence. Clinical and research recommendations were made to inform early intervention, policy and practice
Mozova, K., & Wood, J. (2016). Ties in gangs: The importance of Group Processes. In DFP Annual conference. Brighton, Sussex.
Dickens, T., & Wood, J. (2016). An examination of the psychological pathway of men who cause serious physical harm to children. In National child death conference.
Beresford, H., & Wood, J. (2016). Gang members’ exposure to violence and trauma symptoms. In DFP Annual conference. Brighton, Sussex.
Mozova, K., & Wood, J. (2015). The importance of group processes in gang membership. In Eurogang 2015. Germany.
Dickens, T., & Wood, J. (2014). An examination of the psychological pathway of men who cause severe physical harm to children. In National Association of Chief Police Officers conference. Manchester, UK.