The role of beliefs and trait aggression in prison bullying among young offenders

Adams, Christine and Ireland, Jane Louise orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5117-5930 (2017) The role of beliefs and trait aggression in prison bullying among young offenders. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology . ISSN 1478-9949

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This study aimed to explore the characteristics of those involved in bullying, including trait aggression, beliefs, interpretation of potential threat and responses to aggression. Three hundred and thirteen young adult male offenders completed three measures; the Direct and Indirect Prisoner Behaviour Checklist, the Aggression Questionnaire, and the Threat Appraisal of Behaviour measure. Pure bullies and bully-victims were predicted to have higher trait aggression scores, and to be more likely to endorse beliefs supportive of aggression than other groups. Bully-victims were predicted to have higher levels of trait hostility and higher levels of fear than pure bullies. The results demonstrated that both bully groups had higher trait aggression scores, with bully-victims having higher scores on the hostility subscale than pure bullies or those not involved. Bully-victims viewed bullying as more of a threat and were more fearful of it than pure bullies and they were also more likely to endorse both aggressive and avoidant coping responses whereas pure bullies were more likely to endorse aggressive responding. Findings highlight differences between the two bully groups and offers an outline of the underpinning causes of bullying for each group.

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