Exploring Perceptions of Control Within Offender Cognition and Recidivism Paradigms


  • Anistasha H. Lightning
  • Danielle Polage


Elements of perceived control are associated with recidivism in offender populations. We investigated the application of locus of control to the frequency of personal involvement with the law and to beliefs surrounding the likelihood of future contact with the legal system. We hypothesized that, as the number of sentencings or legal experiences increased, locus of control would externalize. We also predicted that increased legal involvement would lead to greater belief in the likelihood of future involvement. A statistically significant path model suggests that locus of control appears to be a predictor of increased criminality, as opposed to the other way around. Further, data suggests that an offender will view future legal involvement as more likely if they have experienced greater lifetime contact with the legal system. We speculate on the possible application of these data to intervention strategies identifying offenders with high priority intervention needs.