Date of Award

7-31-2007

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Committee Chair

Lisa Christiansen, PsyD.

Second Advisor

Michelle Guyton, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Jay Thomas, Ph.D., ABPP

Abstract

Mental flexibility is a component of the executive function system that allows individuals to discover and employ alternative solutions to novel stimuli. It has been suggested that risk factors for criminality include poor cognitive flexibility leading to deficient problem-solving skilL Mental rigidity has also been correlated with a greater risk of involvement in persistent criminal activity. Studies with various offender populations have also suggested that social problem-solving skills are lacking in different offender groups. Subtests of the Delis Kaplan Executive Function System (D-KEFS; Delis, Kaplan, & Kramer, 2001) were employed to gather data from a group of convicted offenders. It was hypothesized that violent offenders would evidence executive function deficits and show an inferior performance, specifically on measures of cognitive flexibility, compared to nonviolent offenders. It was further hypothesized that the current forensic population as a whole would score differently on specific subtests in comparison to the normative sample. The violent offender group in this sample was found to have lower scale scores on the Sorting Test though the level of the difference was minor. In a comparison with the D-KEFS norming sample, the Sorting, Color Word Interference, and Trails tests also revealed small differences between the groups, and the Tower Test showed no such difference. Significant correlations were found between test performance, intelligence and education, and in comparison with the Brown ADD Scale. A MANOVA comparing test scores and number of convictions revealed no significant results.

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