University of Leicester
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Personality and moral reasoning in young offenders.

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posted on 2015-11-19, 08:57 authored by Paulo Alexandre. Aleixo
The studies presented in this thesis, examined the differences in personality, moral reasoning maturity, intellectual capacity, and family background variables in convicted male young offenders and controls. In addition, the relationship between these variables and self-reported offending behaviour was investigated. The main aim of the investigations was to test predictions from the theories of criminality proposed by H. J. Eysenck (1964; 1970; 1977) and Kohlberg (1969) which associate offending behaviour with lower moral reasoning maturity and the personality characteristics of high psychoticism, extraversion and neuroticism. Results suggested that both official and self-reported measures of offending were related to high psychoticism and extraversion, lower moral reasoning maturity, lower intelligence (perhaps through mediation by moral reasoning and lower socio-economic status). Neuroticism was not found to be important in predicting offending in the age group used, but was assumed to be involved in older individuals when offending behaviour had developed into a habit. These variables were also found to interact to predict offending behaviours. Some of these variables (notably extraversion and neuroticism) were found to be related to specific types of offending. It was concluded that support for H. J. Eysenck and Kohlberg's theories of criminality was found and initial steps were taken in incorporating the various factors found to be associated with offending into a testable model of offending behaviour. Additionally, a study investigating response bias to moral reasoning and personality tests and another examining personality and moral reasoning in disturbed children are reported.


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Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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