Promoting positive individual change

Investigating self-assessed changeability as well as criminal justice staff's views on offender changeability and the barriers to facilitating positive change.

Key details

Lead institution
Principal researcher(s)
Annalise Jessica Elgar
Police region
South East
Collaboration and partnership

Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Hampshire.

Level of research
Masters
Project start date
Date due for completion

Research context

This project consists of two studies.

Study one

The purpose of this study is to investigate whether it is possible to manipulate an individual’s self-assessed ability to improve their life in the future.

Current feelings of pride and shame, personality, locus of control, and personal responsibility will also be measured to discover if these variables have a mediating effect on the result of the manipulation.

This research is required to establish whether a short self-reflection task on times where an individual has/has not changed for the better might impact their belief in their ability to change in the future. This will have important implications for techniques that could be used, for example, with prisoners before they take part in a rehabilitation programme.

The idea is that self-assessed ability to improve in the future may play a crucial role in engagement, and subsequent benefit, from such interventions.

Study two

The purpose of this study is to explore the perspectives of those that work with offenders regarding changeability, responsibility, mental health, and substance misuse.

This research will provide important insight into how criminal justice staff view offenders' ability to change for the better and how that ability might be impacted by factors such as mental health, as well as their experience of what strategies best facilitate positive change.

This will have important implications for how staff training and interventions can best be designed to maximise the effectiveness of criminal justice staff at enabling positive behavioural change, thereby helping to reduce recidivism.

Research methodology

Study one

The study is an experimental, between-groups design and participants will be randomly allocated to one of three groups: upward appraisal, downward appraisal, or neutral.

Participants will be undergraduate students and those recruited through email/social media. The variables being measured are self-assessed ability to improve life in the future, personal responsibility, current feelings of pride and shame, personality (five-factor), and locus of control.

Participants will complete the entire study online via a survey on Qualtrics, and it will be presented as a correlational study to avoid demand characteristics that may arise through awareness of the manipulation. The researcher is aiming of a sample size of 300 participants.

The survey will begin with a short reflection task or a "please click next" instruction. The survey will then follow with the same measures for every participant, with questions on self-assessed ability changeability, personal responsibility, current emotions, locus of control, and the big five inventory. The survey will end with a debrief sheet explaining the full aims of the study.

Data will be analysed through ANOVA, ANCOVA, and secondary analyses.

Study two

Participants will be recruited from various criminal justice organisations. A link to the Qualtrics survey will be sent out to all those willing to participate. The survey will begin with demographic questions, including those related to the participant’s occupation.

Participants will then be asked to complete a series of 10 survey questions all on the topic of offender changeability, with some more specific questions regarding the influence of mental health and substance misuse. The survey will end with an option for participants to input their name and email address to sign up for possible interviews/focus groups, based on the topics covered by the survey, to be conducted online later via Zoom. Analysis will be descriptive and correlational.

Research participation

Study one – Personality, changeability, and locus of control.

If you would like to participate, you will be asked to complete a short survey online using Qualtrics software. Participation should take no longer than 15-20 minutes.

Participants are required to be aged 18 years or over, have a comprehensive understanding of the English language, and to not be personally known by the researcher.

Take the survey

Study 2 – Criminal justice worker’s perspectives on offender changeability and mental health.

If you would like to participate, you will be asked to complete a short survey online using Qualtrics software. Participation should take no longer than 10-15 minutes.

Participants are required to be aged 18 years or over, have experience working with offenders, and must have a comprehensive understanding of the English language.

Take the survey

If you have any questions about either study, please email up2074126@myport.ac.uk 

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