Date of Award

5-2004

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Leonard Handler

Committee Members

Richard A. Saudargas, Robert G. Wahler

Abstract

This study is an archival examination of psychological differences among court-referred delinquent youth. There were 80 participants, with 56 males and 24 females between 13 and 17 years old. By using Ward’s hierarchical cluster analysis, juvenile offenders were grouped into four predetermined clusters of reactive and proactive aggression based on high and low scores obtained on scales measuring Internalization and Externalization dimensions from the Child Behavior Checklist Youth Self-Report (CBCL-YSR) and the Millon Adolescent Clinical Inventory (MACI).

Scales from the YSR and MACI, which were not used in forming the four clusters, along with the Stress Index for Parents of Adolescents (SIPA), the Rorschach (Exner Comprehensive System and Urist Mutuality of Autonomy Scales) and demographic information obtained from the youth’s medical record (e.g., number of arrests, diagnosis, chemical dependency, type of crime) were used in Multivariate Analysis of Covariance (MANCOVA) and Binary Logistic Regression Analyses to explore the mean difference scores between juvenile delinquents clustered into groups labeled “Healthier” Delinquent Youth (HDY), High-Proactive Aggression (H-PA), Neurotic Delinquent Youth (NDY), and High-Reactive Aggression (H-RA).

This study was completed in order to provide a more comprehensive examination, including comparisons of objective and projective measures combined with medical records among a juvenile offending population When examining psychological and behavioral levels of functioning among these delinquents, the H-RA group was more globally impaired than the HDY group. The H-PA group obtained lower scores than the NDY group on some scales of internalization (i.e., Anxious-Depressed, Devaluation, Sum Texture, Food), but not all scales designed to measure internal distress (i.e., Withdrawn). There were no statistically significant differences found between male and females offenders. Further, cluster membership was unable to predict the type of crimes (i.e., violent vs. nonviolent) committed by youth, while membership in the HDY group was predictive of more arrests.

Suggestions are offered for future research on reactive and proactive aggression. Longitudinal studies to include more female participants and serious offenders with follow-up analyses of education/goal achievements, number of arrests, employment status, and marital status/satisfaction may prove beneficial in providing a full range of mental health care services for youth who seek treatment.

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