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Date of Award


Degree Type

Dissertation (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Committee Chair

Genevieve Arnaut, PsyD, PhD

Second Advisor

Michael Daniel, PhD


Researchers have consistently found a relationship between violent offending and head injury, although few have utilized longitudinal designs to examine the temporal order of these events. Some studies have shown that offenders with head injuries, especially violent offenders with head injuries, have accrued more disciplinary reports in prison than have offenders without a history of head injuries. The purposes of this study were to examine the relationship between violent offending and traumatic brain injury (TBI) and to examine whether type of offense (i.e., nonviolent versus violent) and TBI predicted aggressive misconduct.

This study included a sample of male and female offenders housed in a minimum-security restitution center. Only one participant had received a disciplinary report for engaging in physical aggression while at the restitution center. Therefore, the frequency of disciplinary reports received for physical aggression could not be used as a measure. Rather, I replaced the number of violent disciplinary reports with scores on the Borderline Features: Affective Instability (BOR-A), Physical Aggression (AGG-P), and Negative Impression Management (NIM) scales and subscales of the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI) and the number of disciplinary reports received overall, and I examined their relationship to history of TBI and violent offending. Also, I compared the number of violent offenders who reported a history of TBI to the number of nonviolent offenders who reported a history of TBI. Finally, I examined the relationships between demographic variables, number of previous convictions, AGG-P scores, intelligence, and the number of disciplinary reports received overall.

Results showed that significantly more violent offenders than nonviolent offenders reported a history of head injury. Violent offenders did not differ from nonviolent offenders with respect to AGG-P, BOR-A, and NIM scores on the PAI, nor did they differ with respect to the number of disciplinary reports. Likewise, TBI offenders did not differ from non-TBI offenders with respect to number of disciplinary reports and AGG-P, BOR-A, and NIM scores on the PAI. Age, education level, and ethnicity significantly predicted scores on the AGG-P subscale; however, there were no additional predictors of AGG-P scores, and none of the demographic variables significantly predicted the number of disciplinary reports received.