Bullying in Prisons: the Importance of Perceived Social Status, Prisonization and Moral Disengagement

South, C.R. and Wood, Jane L. (2006) Bullying in Prisons: the Importance of Perceived Social Status, Prisonization and Moral Disengagement. Aggressive Behavior , 32 (5). pp. 490-501. ISSN 0096-140X. (Full text available)

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Abstract

Research has focused on the environmental causes of bullying in prison, but neglected the intrinsic characteristics of bullies. Although the importance of social status in prison has been noted as one factor that may influence bullying, no empirical research has yet addressed this. The main aim of this study was to investigate whether the perceived importance of social status in prison motivates bullying, with the subsidiary aim of exploring whether moral disengagement and prisonization influence the relationship. A total of 132 adult male prisoners were interviewed and categorized as a bully, victim, bully/victim or not involved. The prevalence of bullying was high, with over half the prisoners being both a victim and perpetrator of bullying. As predicted, bullying was positively related to the perceived importance of social status; prisoners involved in bullying valued social status more than those who were not. Furthermore, moral disengagement mediated the relationship between bullying and social status. Prisonization was also related to the perceived importance of social status, moral disengagement and bullying. It is concluded that a desire to achieve social status in prison may contribute to bullying. Furthermore, prisonized attitudes may instill values such as social status into prisoners and may also help facilitate cognitive distortions such as moral disengagement, which in turn, may serve to maintain involvement in bullying activity.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: prison bullying; social status; moral disengagement; prisonization; DIPC
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Jane Wood
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2008 12:27
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 17:26
Resource URI: http://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/4463 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
ORCiD (South, C.R.):
ORCiD (Wood, Jane L.):
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