Dissertation Proposal: An investigation of empathy and social problem solving among different bullying groups: A study of male prisoners.
A. Formulation of Research Question
‘What works’ research suggests that cognitive behavioural interventions produce the most effective recidivism results among offender populations. Therefore, it would be just to suggest that this type of intervention would be beneficial when reducing bullying and victimisation within the same population.
Cognitive deficits that are related to offending attitudes and behaviour include social problem solving (Freedman, Rosenthal, Donahoe, Schlindt and McFall, 1978), and empathy (Covell and Scalora, 2002) among others.
As bullying is an interaction with others, it seems appropriate that social problem solving and empathy would be related to bullying behaviour. Ireland (1998, 1999) identified four distinct bullying groups using the Direct and Indirect Prisoner Behaviour Checklist (DIPC): ‘pure bullies’- those reporting bullying behaviour; ‘pure victims’- those reporting being bullied; ‘bully/victims’- those reporting bullying others and being bullied’ and ‘not involved’- those reporting no bullying or victimisation.
Although broad guidelines have been suggested highlighting specific interventions such as ‘anti-bullying units’ (Home Office, 1999) there has been limited research into creating and implementing effective interventions for bullies and victims within secure settings. At HMP (name of institution) needs-analysis research indicated a rise in bullying over the last year, suggesting a need for effective interventions.
Therefore, the hypothesis is that there will be significant differences in the scores on empathy and social problem solving between the four bullying groups.
Proportionate sampling will be employed ensuring a sufficient representation from each wing is obtained, enabling results to be generalised. A systematic random sample of all prisoners at HMP (name of institution) will be selected via reception data. Every 6th prisoner will be selected; therefore an initial group of 100 will be obtained.
Only adult male participants will be selected due to HMP (name of institution) only housing such prisoners. However, a cross-section of offences will be available, but not controlled for, as certain wings house individuals with certain offences. Additionally, the effect of age will be measured.
A between-subjects design will be used. The dependent variables are empathy and social problem solving abilities. The independent variable will be bully group which will have four levels: ‘pure bully’, ‘’pure victim’, ‘bully/victim’ and ‘not involved’. The purpose of the analysis is to measure the difference in empathy and problem solving between each bully category to establish a foundation on which effective intervention programmes can be developed.
Due to the occurrence of extraneous errors the following sources will be controlled. To control for distractions the study material will be completed in psychometric conditions. All participants will have the same length of time to individually complete this material with the researcher. The researcher’s presence will also counteract the issue of illiteracy as material can be asked to individual participants. A debrief will immediately follow.
All study materials are self-report surveys. The Direct and Indirect Prisoner Behaviour Checklist (DIPC) (Ireland, 1998, 1999) including an Indirect Victimisation Index (IVI) (Ireland, 1997) will used to classify group membership. As Covell and Scalora (2002) identified the link between attitudes and empathy, the modified Provictim scale (Ireland and Archer, 1996 and Ireland, 1995) based on Rigby and Slee (1991) will be used which assesses attitudes towards victims of bullying. Additionally Davis’ (1980) Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) will be used which measures...
References: Covell, C.N and Scalora, M. J. (2002). Empathic deficits in sexual offenders: An integration of affective, social and cognitive constructs. Aggression and Violent Behaviour, 7 (3), 251-270.
Davis, M.H. (1980). A multidimensional approach to individual difference in empathy. JSAS Catalog of Selected Documents in Psychology, 51, 67-184.
Freeman, B.J., Rosenthal, L., Donahoe, C.P,. Schlindt, D. G, and McFall, R.M (1978). A social behavioural analysis of skill deficits in delinquent and non-delinquent boys. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 46, 1448-1462.
Home Office (1999). Home Office Statistical Bulletin. London: HMSO.
Ireland, J. L. (1995). Descriptive analysis of bullying in male and female prisoners. BSc Dissertation. University of Central Lancashire. Lancashire. UK.
Ireland, J. L. (1997). Bullying amongst prisoners: A study of gender differences, provictim attitudes and empathy. MSc Dissertation. The Manchester Metropolitan University. Manchester. UK.
Ireland, J. L. (1998). Direct and Indirect Prisoner Behaviour Checklist (DIPC). University of Central Lancashire. Lancashire. UK.
Ireland, J. L. (1999). Bullying behaviours among male and female prisoners: A study of adult and young offenders. Aggressive Behaviour, 25 (3), 162-178.
Ireland, J.L. and Archer, J. (1996). Descriptive analysis of bullying in male and female adult prisoners. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 6, 35-47.
Rigby, K and Slee, P.T. (1991). Bullying among Australian school children: reported behaviour and attitudes to victims. Journal of Social Psychology, 131, 615-627.
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