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Abstract

Introduction

The Psychological Inventory of Criminal Thinking Styles (PICTS) is a measure of the criminal cognitions and thinking styles that maintain offending. The scale comprises 8 a priori thinking styles and two validation scales, the validation scales having been found to be unreliable. Owing to the large amount of apparently shared variance in the original validation study, this data matrix needs re-analysis. Results from the PICTS were examined in relation to general measures of individual differences, in order to link the PICTS to the broader literature on the characteristics of offenders.

Method

The original PICTS data-matrix was re-analysed using a more parsimonious method of analysis. The PICYS was also given to 54 detained, mentally disordered offenders along with the NEO-Five Factor Inventory, the Sensation-Seeking Scale (SSS), the Attention Deficit Scales for Adults (ADSA) and, as a measure of general intelligence, the Standard Progressive Matrices.

Results

Principal components analysis suggested that the PICTS really comprised two factors: a lack of thoughtfulness (i.e. lack of attention to one's experience), and wilful hostility, with the first factor being most well defined. Intelligence was not associated with any factor of criminal thinking style. High scores on the ADSA and Disinhibition and Boredom Susceptibility subscales of the SSS were associated with much greater endorsement of criminal sentiments; high Neuroticism, low Extroversion, and low Agreeableness were slightly lower correlates.

Discussion

The issues involved in criminogenic cognitions need clarification and to be linked to the broader literature on cognitive distortions and personality. Interventions targeted at dismantling impulsive destructive behaviour, whether it be thoughtlessness or wilful hostility, may be effected by increasing thinking skills, so breaking down the cognitions that maintain criminal behaviour. Copyright © 2000 Whurr Publishers Ltd.