Paranoid Characteristics and Adjustment in Incarcerated Men and Women

Sturek, Jennifer, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Loper, Ann, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Warren, Janet, Department of Psychiatry and NB Sciences, University of Virginia
Gregory, Anne, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Fan, Xitao, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

Research in the community suggests that individuals who have extemallocus of control and fear victimization are more likely to develop paranoia. Little is known about the relationship of these factors to paranoia among prison inmates, even though incarcerated individuals live in an environment controlled by others and face victimization and violence while in prison. This study investigated the prevalence of paranoid characteristics in a sample of 470 male and female offenders who were incarcerated in eleven prisons in two different states. Paranoid characteristics were measured by the Structured Interview for DSM-IV Personality, while inmate functioning was measured by responses to the following measures: Beck Depression Inventory, Inmate Fear of Victimization, Prison Violence Inventory, Novaco Anger Scale and Sexual Activity in Prison. The sample was described in terms of demographic and criminal characteristics, in addition to paranoid characteristics and inmate functioning. Results indicated that the current sample was very similar to other incarcerated populations. Higher levels of paranoia and poorer functioning (in terms of depression, worry, perpetration of violence, victimization of violence, and anger) were found for this sample than are seen in nonincarcerated populations. Notably, inmates' endorsements of paranoid characteristics were especially strong and more similar to clinical psychiatric populations. The relation between paranoia and inmate functioning was investigated using linear and quadratic regression. A goal of the present study was to determine whether paranoia had an adaptive role, to see if it was associated with better inmate functioning. This relationship was not found for any measure of inmate functioning. Rather, paranoia was significantly associated with negative inmate functioning. Further exploration of paranoia in the prison environment is needed to better understand this finding. Specifically, longitudinal research which examines inmate paranoia over the length of incarceration would be useful. Finally, the seven paranoid characteristics were entered into multiple regression analyses to see whether one or two characteristics consistently acted as predictors of various measures of inmate functioning. However, four of the seven paranoid characteristics accounted for different inmate outcomes. One of the characteristics was associated with multiple measures of functioning; Implications of the importance of this characteristic are explored.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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