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Gender-role identity and hypermasculinity in violent offending

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Some criminological theories suggest that aspects of self-image, particularly self-perceptions of attributes considered masculine, may be contributing factors to personal violence. To test hypotheses concerning this, psychometric assessments were administered to two groups of male adult prisoners respectively convicted of violent offences (n=30), or of property offences (n=30), alongside a non-offender community sample (n=30). A cross-sectional comparison design was adopted to test hypotheses concerning differences in gender-role identity, 'hypermasculinity', self-esteem and self-image discrepancy between the three groups. Findings confirmed the experimental hypothesis of a difference between the offender groups' hypermasculinity scores and those of the control group. However, no significant between-group differences were found in terms of self-esteem. The theft group differed significantly from the control group on one type of self-image discrepancy; other than this there were no significant between-group differences in self-discrepancy scores. Results are discussed with reference to theoretical accounts of factors influencing violent behaviour, and their potential implications for the design of intervention programmes.
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Keywords: gender-role identity; masculinity; prisoners; property crime; self-discrepancy; self-image; violence

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Psychology Services, Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Trust, Chester, UK 2: Division of Clinical Psychology, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK

Publication date: February 1, 2009

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