Purpose – This study aims to investigate the predictive validity of self‐control (SC) for several forms of criminal recidivism (general, property, violence, sexual). Design/methodology/approach – In total, 1,838 male prisoners were interviewed while serving a prison sentence. Personality traits known to be related to SC served as operationalization of SC. Cluster analyses identified three clusters of SC‐related traits: Emotion regulation, Self‐assertion, and Effortful control. Survival‐analyses predicted recidivism, which was assessed using official data. The follow up period amounted to 72 months. Findings – The SC‐related trait clusters significantly predicted general and violent reoffending, after controlling for established risk factors for recidivism (age, age at first offense, social status, previous youth detention, out‐of‐home placements, and length of imprisonment). However, trait clusters did not predict reoffending with a property offense. Offenders with violent or sex offenses in their criminal history showed different profiles on the trait clusters. Originality/value – The paper shows that SC is an important risk factor for violent recidivism. SC‐related trait clusters should not be combined to form a single score, because essential information for risk profiles would be lost.
Journal of Criminal Psychology – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 21, 2012
Keywords: Self‐control; Prisoners; Young adult offenders; Personality traits; Violent reoffending; Survival analyses; Recidivism; Criminals; Young adults; Individual psychology
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