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The impact of brain injury on within-individual changes in moral disengagement: implications for criminal and antisocial behavior Brain injury and moral disengagement

NCJ Number
Journal of Experimental Criminology Dated: 2020
Date Published

The current study further unpacked the link between head injury and criminal behavior by examining the association between brain injury and changes in moral disengagement.


The study used the Pathways to Desistance study (N = 1,354) to estimate a series of longitudinal cross-lagged dynamic panel models to examine within-individual changes in moral disengagement across the study period. Study results indicated that moral disengagement decreased over time, but sustaining a head injury resulted in a subsequent increase in moral disengagement across the study period. Head injuries may compromise expected changes in moral disengagement via neuropsychological deficits in brain regions that are implicated in moral decision-making. A continued investigation of this link would inform both criminological theory and intervention programming. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2020