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Role of Impulsivity in Antisocial and Violent Behavior and Personality Disorders Among Incarcerated Women

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice and Behavior: An International Journal Volume: 34 Issue: 11 Dated: November 2007 Pages: 1499-1515
Date Published
November 2007
17 pages

This study investigated the relationships among impulsivity, antisocial and violent behavior, and personality disorders in female inmates of a maximum-security female prison.


The study demonstrates the association between incarcerated women’s levels of impulsivity and self-reported violent behavior, personality psychopathology, and institutional infractions. The study contributes to the research on the unique characteristics of incarcerated women by demonstrating similarities and differences related to the construct of impulsivity among female inmates compared to male inmates. In summary, this research provides evidence for the importance of impulsivity associated with violent behavior of female offenders. The results underscore the need for gender-specific models of understanding of impulsivity. Impulsivity is related to various forms of psychopathology and maladaptive behavior. Among incarcerated men, there is a well-documented relationship between impulsivity and antisocial behavior, as well as institutional aggression and adjustment problems. Despite the considerable increase in the number of female inmates in the past several years, few studies have focused on the relationship between impulsivity and antisocial behavior among incarcerated women. In this study, a positive relationship between impulsivity, violence, and both self-reported and behaviorally observed antisocial behavior in incarcerated women was predicted. It was also expected that a positive relationship between impulsivity and those personality disorders in which impulsivity is an important component would be found and no relationship between impulsivity and those personality disorders in which impulsivity is a less relevant construct. Participants were 590 women incarcerated at a maximum-security prison in central Virginia who were participating in a larger prison-wide longitudinal study on adjustment in prison. Tables, references

Date Published: November 1, 2007