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Social Information Processing in delinquent adolescents

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In this study, Social Information Processing (SIP) and behaviour problems of incarcerated juvenile delinquents and non-delinquent peers were compared. Specific associations of SIP patterns with reactive and proactive aggression were assessed, and mediation of the relationship between intelligence and delinquency by SIP was examined. Participants were 42 incarcerated male delinquents, 40 non-delinquent adolescents in lower education, and 54 non-delinquent adolescents in higher education. Measures of behaviour problems, intelligence, and SIP were completed. Juvenile delinquents showed more externalizing behaviour problems and proactive aggression than their non-delinquent peers. Delinquent juveniles were more reactively aggressive than higher educated peers but no more than lower educated peers. Concerning SIP, juvenile delinquents attributed less sad emotions, generated fewer adaptive emotion-regulation strategies, and generated more aggressive responses than their higher educated peers. No group differences were found for hostile intent attribution or own emotions. Hostile intent attribution and adaptive emotion regulation related specifically to reactive aggression. The relation between intelligence and delinquency was not mediated by SIP.
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Keywords: Aggressive behaviour; adolescence; delinquency; social cognition

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Developmental Psychology, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

Publication date: December 1, 2005

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