The Psychological Effects of Imprisonment: The Role of Cognitive, Psychopathic and Affective Traits


  • Tiziana Lanciano
  • Lidia de Leonardis
  • Antonietta Curci


The present cross-sectional correlational study aimed to investigate a set of cognitive, affective, and personality traits impacting the psychological effects of imprisonment. Ninety-three male inmates filled out a battery including measures of intelligence, working memory, psychopathy, aggressiveness, anxious trait, emotionality, rumination styles, and empathy proneness. Inmates' psychological outcomes were conceptualized in terms of mood, anxiety, depression, and general health. Results showed that inmates with high cognitive abilities, psychopathic impulsivity, proactive aggression, personal distress and fantasy, anxious and negative emotionality are mainly prone to ill-being psychological outcomes. Contrariwise, the fearless dominance trait, positive emotionality and empathic concern ability seem to expose inmates to positive psychological outcomes. Reactive aggression and perspective taking seem to impact both positive and negative moods. Ruminative style was unrelated to psychological outcomes. These preliminary results provide an insight into which factors intervention programs should be based upon in order to enhance well-being and reduce distress among inmates.