Comparative Analysis of Attitudes and Emotions Among Inmates: Does Mental Illness Matter?

Nancy Wolff, Robert D. Morgan, Jing Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


This study examines the relationship between behavioral health problems and criminogenic thinking, aggression, self-control, and hopelessness, controlling for other demographic and criminal behavior characteristics among incarcerated persons. Male (n = 3,986) and female (n = 218) inmates expected to be released within 24 months from prisons affiliated with a northeastern state department of corrections completed the Criminal Sentiments Scale-Modified, Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire Short-Form, Brief Self-Control Scale, and Beck Hopelessness Scale. Results indicated that behavioral health variables were significantly and substantially correlated with antisocial thinking, aggression, self-control, and hopelessness. For male inmates, serious mental illness and substance abuse problems significantly increased antisocial attitudes, aggression, and hopelessness scores and decreased self-control scores. In preparing incarcerated persons with and without mental illnesses for reentry to the community, it is critical to develop and implement evidence-based interventions that respond to attitudinal and emotional risk factors that predict relapse and recidivism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1092-1108
Number of pages17
JournalCriminal Justice and Behavior
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • aggression
  • criminogenic thinking
  • hopelessness
  • inmate
  • mental illness
  • reentry


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