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Personality‐related factors among incarcerated recidivist drug dealers: A path analysis

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Background Although drug trafficking is one of the most prevalent crimes around the world, drug dealers used to be a hard-to-reach population far away from attention by public health programmes. Decisions to participate in such instrumental crimes, however, are based on external and internal factors that could be investigated and perhaps modified. Aim To identify drug use problems and personality factors consistently related to the drug trafficking recidivism among incarcerated drug dealers. Method Data were from 179 men serving a sentence for drug trafficking in two Brazilian penitentiaries who were asked to complete mainly self-ratings of alcohol and drug use, impulsiveness, personality and criminological features. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and structured equation modelling. Results Incarcerated recidivist drug dealers are younger, more likely to be non-white, have more frequently used illicit drugs before the penalty and have higher alcohol use-severity than non-recidivists. Neuroticism, extraversion, severity of alcohol use and drug use before the penalty were each positively correlated with recidivism. Openness to experience was not associated with a history of recidivism but, rather, positively correlated with better school achievement. One third of the men took up the offer of feedback from the research assessment. Conclusions Our study showed that social, drug-related and personality style variables come together to allow likely recidivist drug dealers to be distinguished from those unlikely to resume dealing after imprisonment. Given scarce resources for constructive intervention, this is important. We were impressed by the men's willingness to co-operate with the study, despite their reputation for being in thrall to the drug trade hierarchy, and by their curiosity about themselves. This bodes well for further investigation of relevant psychological indicators and consequently informed intervention.

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In explaining crime, some criminological theories emphasize time-stable individual differences in propensity to offend while others emphasize more proximate and situational factors. Using scenario data from a sample of college undergraduates we have found evidence to support both positions. A measure of criminal propensity (poor self-control) was found to be significantly related to self-reported decisions to commit three offenses (drunk driving, theft, and sexual assault). Even after considering differences in self-control, there was evidence to suggest that the attractiveness of the crime target, the ease of committing the crime with minimum risk, and perceptions of the costs and benefits of committing the crime were all significantly related to offending decisions. Our results suggest that theories of criminal offending should include notions pertaining to persistent individual differences in criminal propensity and choice-relevant variables.
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The authors argue that the concept of personality has much to offer the field of criminology. To this end, they used meta-analytic techniques to examine the relations between antisocial behavior defined relatively broadly and four structural models of personality: Eysenck's PEN model, Tellegen's three-factor model, Costa and McCrae's five-factor model (FFM), and Cloninger's seven-factor temperament and character model. A comprehensive review of the literature yielded 59 studies that provided relevant information. Eight of the dimensions bore moderate relations to antisocial behavior; the dimensions could all be understood as measures of either Agreeableness or Conscientiousness from the FFM. The implications of these findings for future research are considered.
Article
This article examines the adequacy of the “rules of thumb” conventional cutoff criteria and several new alternatives for various fit indexes used to evaluate model fit in practice. Using a 2‐index presentation strategy, which includes using the maximum likelihood (ML)‐based standardized root mean squared residual (SRMR) and supplementing it with either Tucker‐Lewis Index (TLI), Bollen's (1989) Fit Index (BL89), Relative Noncentrality Index (RNI), Comparative Fit Index (CFI), Gamma Hat, McDonald's Centrality Index (Mc), or root mean squared error of approximation (RMSEA), various combinations of cutoff values from selected ranges of cutoff criteria for the ML‐based SRMR and a given supplemental fit index were used to calculate rejection rates for various types of true‐population and misspecified models; that is, models with misspecified factor covariance(s) and models with misspecified factor loading(s). The results suggest that, for the ML method, a cutoff value close to .95 for TLI, BL89, CFI, RNI, and Gamma Hat; a cutoff value close to .90 for Mc; a cutoff value close to .08 for SRMR; and a cutoff value close to .06 for RMSEA are needed before we can conclude that there is a relatively good fit between the hypothesized model and the observed data. Furthermore, the 2‐index presentation strategy is required to reject reasonable proportions of various types of true‐population and misspecified models. Finally, using the proposed cutoff criteria, the ML‐based TLI, Mc, and RMSEA tend to overreject true‐population models at small sample size and thus are less preferable when sample size is small.
Article
In order to examine the relationship between broad personality traits and learning approaches, 852 university students completed the NEO-FFI [Costa, P. T., Jr., & McCrae, R. R. (1992). Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) and NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI): Professional manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources] and SPQ [Biggs, J. B. (1987). The Study Process Questionnaire manual. Victoria: Australian Council for Educational Research], which assess personality and learning approaches, respectively. Seven previous studies were used to generate hypotheses on the relationship between these two measures, but only the positive link between Openness to Experience and Deep learning was supported by both correlational and structural equation modelling tests. Openness was also found to be negatively linked to Surface learning, but other Big Five traits were not saliently associated with learning approaches. Results indicate that the overlap between learning approaches and personality traits is lower than previously suggested. Implications are discussed.
Article
Although rates of methamphetamine use continue to increase throughout the United States, little is known about the individuals who sell methamphetamine at the street level. This exploratory study examined the prevalence and correlates of drug-dealing behavior in a sample of 404 heterosexually identified methamphetamine users who were participants in a sexual risk reduction intervention in San Diego, California. Twenty-nine percent of participants (N = 116) reported "dealing" methamphetamine in the past 2 months. In a multivariate logistic regression, methamphetamine dealing was associated with being male (OR = 1.99; 95% CI 1.16-3.39), younger age (OR = 1.87 per year; 95% CI 1.10-3.17), more frequent use of methamphetamine (OR = 2.69; 95% CI 1.59-4.57), injecting methamphetamine (OR = 3.10; 95% CI 1.79-5.37), and higher hostility scores (OR = 1.07 per unit increase; 95% CI 1.01-1.13). These characteristics, particularly intensity of drug use and hostility, may be associated with greater resistance to drug treatment and lower success in treatment programs.
Article
The concept of psychopathy, as measured by the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R), has good reliability and validity and there is a small amount of literature relating it to more general personality traits. Such relationships have not, however, been demonstrated across a variety of populations. To examine the relationship between the PCL-R and the NEO-Five Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) in a sample of men detained in a secure hospital unit because of personality disorder and having been convicted of at least one criminal offence. PCL-R and NEO-FFI measures were obtained for 100 men as part of a pre-admission assessment to a specialist personality disorder treatment unit. After controlling for Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and scores on the other four NEO-FFI domains, PCL-R total scores were significantly negatively correlated with agreeableness (r = -0.36) and neuroticism (r = -0.22). No other correlations with total scores were significant. PCL-R Factor 1 scores were significantly negatively correlated with agreeableness (r = -0.31) and with neuroticism (r = -0.26) whereas Factor 2 scores were significantly positively correlated with extraversion (r = 0.22) and negatively with agreeableness (r = -0.21). Results were in line with findings from previous studies and were explained in part by considering how facets of the NEO-FFI map onto the concept of psychopathy. Further research is needed to ascertain whether similar relationships also apply among women, and to examine the relationship between psychopathy and specific facets of the five factor model.
Article
So-called "balanced" drug policy couples enforcement initiatives targeting drug dealers with health-focused interventions serving addicted individuals. There are few evaluations of this approach, and little is known about how these two populations may overlap. We evaluated factors associated with drug dealing among injection drug users (IDUs) in Vancouver, Canada, and examined self-reported drug-dealing roles and reasons for dealing. Among 412 IDUs seen from March through December 2005, 68 (17%) had dealt drugs during the previous six months. Variables independently associated with drug dealing included: recent incarceration (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 2.9; 95%CI: 1.4-6.0); frequent heroin injection (AOR = 2.5; 95%CI: 1.4-4.6); frequent cocaine injection (AOR = 2.0; 95%CI: 1.1-3.8); and recent overdose (AOR = 2.7; 95%CI: 1.0-7.3). The most common drug-dealing roles were direct selling (82%), middling (35%), and steering (19%), while the most common reasons for dealing included obtaining drugs (49%) and money (36%). Drug dealing among IDUs was predicted by several markers of higher intensity addiction, and drug-dealing IDUs tended to occupy the most dangerous positions in the drug-dealing hierarchy. These findings suggest that elements of "balanced" drug policies may undermine each other and indicate the need for alternative interventions.
Article
Current and lifetime prevalence of substance use and psychiatric disorders was determined by administering the NIMH-DIS, revised to cover DSM-III-R diagnoses, to a sample of 1007 young adults. Personality and affectivity were measured also. Increased rate of any Substance Use Disorder was related to use of cocaine more than 5 times over the lifetime regardless of whether or not criteria for Cocaine Dependence were met. Increased rate of any Affective Disorder was related to dependence in those who used cocaine more than 5 times. Cocaine use was associated with increased neuroticism, psychoticism and negative affect.
Article
The concurrent, construct, and discriminant validity of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) were evaluated. AUDIT consists of a 10-item Core questionnaire and an 8-item Clinical procedure. AUDIT was designed to identify hazardous drinkers (whose drinking increases their risk of alcohol-related problems, though alcohol-associated harm has not yet occurred); harmful drinkers (who have had recent physical or mental harm from their drinking, but who are not alcohol-dependent); and people with alcohol dependence. Known alcoholics (n = 65) and general medical patients (n = 187) completed self-report questionnaires and underwent a diagnostic interview, physical examination and laboratory testing. AUDIT scores correlated significantly with scores on the MAST and MacAndrew alcoholism screening tests, and with ALAT, ASAT, GGT and MCV levels, which reflect recent heavy drinking. AUDIT scores were correlated with measures of alcoholism vulnerability (e.g., familial alcoholism and sociopathy), and with somatic and affective consequences of drinking. Receiver operating characteristic and discriminant function analyses indicated that the AUDIT Core and Clinical Instruments were sensitive and specific in discriminating alcoholics from medical patients, most of whom were nonalcoholics. The AUDIT Core was superior to the MAST and the AUDIT Clinical in discriminating hazardous drinkers from nonhazardous drinkers. It was also superior to the AUDIT Clinical in discriminating harmful from nonharmful drinkers. The AUDIT Core Instrument is useful for early detection of hazardous or harmful drinking, while the AUDIT Clinical Instrument is better applied to identification and/or confirmation of cases of alcohol dependence.
Article
Drug trafficking seems to be both prevalent and associated with considerable morbidity and mortality among inner-city African-American males. Survey data has indicated the possible importance of economic need in the rapid emergence of drug trafficking in this population. In the present study, an historical-cultural approach is used to examine this economic relationship further and to explore the role that drug trafficking plays in a society that has permitted its successful and rapid growth. Data were obtained from interviews of approximately 600 African-Americans residing in inner-city neighborhoods in Washington, DC and Baltimore during nine drug- and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome-related studies conducted over 4 years. From the perspective of the study participants, the need to provide economic support for one's family as well as to achieve some sense of status, respect, and reputation among one's peers are two core constructs of masculine identity in the United States. The historical and worsening inequities in access to economic resources and power by African-American males are viewed as significantly reducing the opportunity for economic success through more social or legal enterprises. Pursuit of nonmainstream activities (such as drug trafficking) is perceived as offering an opportunity for economic advancement and for establishing a power base for individuals who have been denied access to mainstream opportunities.
Article
Owing to criticisms of current concepts of personality disorders such as high comorbidity, criteria overlap and arbitrary thresholds of categorical diagnoses, a dimensional assessment is proposed that considers interrelations between different personality disorders. Results of previous factor analyses using dimensional personality disorder scores have indicated that one underlying dimension shows strong similarities to the concept of psychopathy and is similarly related to criminal recidivism. The authors examined the underlying dimensions of ICD-10 personality disorders, to analyse their association with criminal behaviour in general, and with specific criminal history variables. Study samples included 105 offenders and 80 non-criminal controls. Personality disorders were measured using a clinical structured interview (IPDE), measures of personality using self-report (NEO-FFI, IPC, HDHQ), and criminal history variables obtained from court records. Three underlying personality disorder factors could be identified, which showed identical structures in both the forensic and the non-forensic sample. Factor 1 comprised emotionally unstable, histrionic, paranoid and dissocial traits and showed strong similarity to the construct of psychopathy. Factor 2 was defined by anankastic personality disorder scores and an inverse relation to schizoid personality features. Factor 3 showed high negative loadings of anxious and dependent personality disorders. Self-report measures of personality and criminal history variables yielded different associations with the three PD dimensions. Offenders with high scores on factor 1 were highly aggressive, violent and impulsive. The findings generally replicated previous analyses using DSM-III personality disorder scores. Differences can be explained by the different constructs of personality disorders included in ICD-10. Although a diagnosis of psychopathy is not currently included in these diagnostic systems, the authors' findings indicate that a highly inter-related pattern of personality disorder scores constitutes psychopathic personality disorder and can be used to identify impulsive, hostile and violent offenders.
Article
To assess the concurrent and the construct validity of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) in an urban Brazilian sample. A random sample of 166 clients of a health management organization, participated in this study. They were visited in their households and completed a self-report questionnaire, which included the AUDIT. Later, they answered the alcohol-related disorders (ARDs) Section of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. The receiver operating curve (ROC) was used to find the best cut-off point for ICD-10 diagnosis of ARDs. Confirmatory factor analysis was run to assess the construct validity. The ROC analysis showed the same cut-off point (7/8) for ICD-10 diagnosis of ARDs found in previous studies carried out in primary care settings, including in Brazil, with a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 76%. The confirmatory factor analysis suggested a two-factor structure. The first factor measured consumption and the second factor alcohol-related problems. The results supported the use of the self-reported version of the AUDIT in epidemiologic studies, and showed a similar cut-off point for detection of ARDs and hazardous drinking.
Drugs & democracy in Rio de Janeiro. Trafficking, social networks, & public security
  • E. D. Arias
The revised NEO PI/NEO‐FFI professional manual
  • P. T. Costa
  • R. R. McCrae
Manual of Maudsley personality disorder
  • H. J. Eysenck