Academic journal article The Journal of Special Education and Rehabilitation

Understanding Conative Regulation Systems - an Examination of the Differences between Offenders and Non-Offenders

Academic journal article The Journal of Special Education and Rehabilitation

Understanding Conative Regulation Systems - an Examination of the Differences between Offenders and Non-Offenders

Article excerpt

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Introduction Numerous studies confirmed personality traits as being important predictors of criminal behavior. The aim of this research was to determine which constellation of basic personality traits incarcerated individuals and those serving alternative sanctions differ, and which traits make the difference between the criminal and the non-criminal populations. In this research, the model of personality used is a cybernetic model of conative functioning, which assumes that conative regulation systems almost completely describe the structure of personality.

Methods The study sample consisted of 391 male respondents (152 offenders serving prison sentence, 91 convicts sentenced to alternative penalties and 148 non-offenders). Examined variables were: the regulator of activity (Extroversion), the regulator of organic functions (Hysteria), the regulator of defense reactions (Anxiety), the regulator of attack reactions (Aggressiveness), the system for coordination of regulatory functions (Psychoticism) and the system for integration of regulatory functions (Integration).

Results There were significant differences in all dimensions of personality between groups, except for the framework of Extraversion. The traits that contribute to the difference between individuals serving prison sentence and offenders sentenced to alternative penalties are Integration and Aggressiveness. The traits that contribute to the difference between non-offenders and offenders serving prison sentence are Psychoticism, Integration, Aggressiveness, and Anxiety. Among offenders sentenced to alternative penalties and the general population no difference in personality traits was found.

Conclusions Our findings may indicate the need for mandatory diagnostic psychological evaluation of persons who have committed minor offenses, to ensure the right decision is made when choosing between prison and an alternative method of punishment.

Keywords: personality traits, offenders, disorganization, disorders, rehabilitation.


Within the psychological approach, there are numerous studies and empirical findings which unequivocally confirm the importance of psychological and neurobiological theories in the explanation of antisocial behavior (1). From psychological theoretical models of personality, regarding the theories of crime, Eysenck's personality theory within the psychobiological approach, and the Big Five model within the lexical model were often used (1, 2). According to Eysenck, criminal behavior is the result of the interaction of specific factors of the autonomic nervous system and sociological factors (2). In short, his thesis on the structure of personality explains that three personality traits identified as Psychoticism (P), Extraversion (E) and Neuroticism (N) can be additionally explained by genetic variance and are the basis of all individual differences between personalities (3). People with low Psychoticism are socialized and emphatic, and people with high Psychoticism are characterized by emphasized impulsiveness, aggressiveness, thrill-seeking, lack of guilt, hostility, and lack of anxiety. Studies have shown that Psychoticism is a significant predictor of antisocial behavior in young offenders (5), that it represents a stable trait of criminals who have committed serious crimes,and that is largely associated with recidivism (6-9). For Extraversion, whose mechanisms are located in the CNS, cortical low attention capability is characteristic, which is the reason why extroverts are constantly seeking additional stimulation and excitement. The opinions based on exploring this trait in criminals are divided, some believe that the contribution of Extraversion to criminal behavior is small (5), others that Extraversion and Neuroticism are in fact responsible for manipulative antisocial behavior (9,10). Eysenck and Gudjansson have set the hypothesis that Neuroticism is more important in adult criminals and Extraversion in young delinquents (6). …

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