Low Self-Control

Are prisoners with low self-control at heightened risk of victimizing, or being victimized by, other inmates? Research has consistently shown that low self-control is related to criminal offending. Some studies have also indicated that this trait is a risk factor for victimization, in that people with low self-control might place themselves in dangerous situations. One of the central tenets of this theory is that self-control is stable and acts in a uniform manner regardless of context. Kerley, Hochstetler, and Copes (2009) tested this theory by examining whether the link between self-control and both offending and victimization held true within the prison environment. Using data gathered from surveys of prison inmates, the researchers discovered that low self-control was only slightly related to in-prison offending and victimization. This result could challenge the assumption that low self-control operates uniformly in all contexts. To the contrary, something about prisoners themselves, the prison environment, or the interaction between the two might change the dynamics of low self-control.

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