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Psychology, Department of

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What Are Judges’ Views of Risk Assessments, and How Do Tools Affect Adolescent Dispositions?

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020-11-30
Abstract: 

Despite the increased presence of risk assessment tools in pre-sentence hearings, their role has been contentious, and the extent to which they influence dispositions is unclear. This study uses a self-report questionnaire to examine judges’ opinions about risk assessment tools, as well as an experimental vignette design to evaluate whether judges’ placement and program recommendations for a high- and low-risk adolescent are affected by the presence of an empirically supported tool and accompanying risk rating. It also assesses the influence of tool presence on judges’ impressions of the adolescent’s treatability and culpability. Participants included 170 judges from 34 American states and two Canadian provinces. The most common advantage of tools highlighted by judges was the additional information they provide, while the most common concern was their potential to obscure bias. Judges’ placement recommendations and impressions of the adolescent were not significantly influenced by tool presence, but their program recommendations were more intensive and consistent for the high-risk adolescent when a tool was present than when it was absent.

Document type: 
Article
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Impact of Risk Assessment Instruments on Rates of Pretrial Detention, Postconviction Placements, and Release: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-10-01
Abstract: 

Objective: Many agencies use risk assessment instruments to guide decisions about pretrial detention, post-conviction incarceration, and release from custody. Although some policymakers believe that these tools might reduce overincarceration and recidivism rates, others are concerned that they may exacerbate racial and ethnic disparities in placements. The objective of this systematic review was to test these assertions.

 

Hypotheses: It was hypothesized that the adoption of tools might slightly decrease incarceration rates. Impact on disparities might vary by tool and context.

 

Method: Published and unpublished studies were identified by searching 13 databases, reviewing reference lists, and contacting experts. In total, 22 studies met inclusion criteria; these studies included 1,444,499 adolescents and adults who were accused or convicted of a crime. Each study was coded by two independent raters using a data extraction form and a risk of bias tool. Results were aggregated using both a narrative approach and meta-analyses. 

 

Results: The adoption of tools was associated with (1) small overall decreases in restrictive placements (aggregated OR = 0.63, p < .001), particularly for individuals who were low risk and (2) small reductions in any recidivism (OR = 0.85, p = .020). However, after removing studies with a high risk of bias, the results were no longer significant.

 

Conclusions: Although risk assessment tools might help to reduce restrictive placements, the strength of this evidence is low. Furthermore, due to a lack of research, it is unclear how tools impact racial and ethnic disparities in placements. As such, future research is needed.

Document type: 
Article
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Cultural Differences in Infant Spontaneous Behaviour: Evidence From a Small-Scale, Rural Island Society

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020-09-28
Abstract: 

We examined infant activity level and attention in 45 eight‐month‐old infants (mean age 8.8, SD = 2.07) living in two diverse socio‐cultural contexts: rural island societies in the South Pacific and urban Western societies in North America. Infants and mothers were observed for 10 minutes in a face‐to‐face interaction and later coded for the frequency of infants' motor movements and gaze shifts. Results indicate that infants in urban North American societies produced more frequent motor movements and gaze shifts compared to infants in rural, island societies in Oceania. We interpret these discrepancies as reflecting differences in social experience, ecological niches as well as physiological experiences. These findings highlight the complex interplay of development and experience early in life.

Document type: 
Article

Bridging Risk Assessments to Case Planning: Development and Evaluation of an Intervention-Planning Tool for Adolescents on Probation

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-09-05
Abstract: 

Even though risk assessment tools are often intended to inform case planning, they do not provide much direct guidance. As such, we developed an intervention-planning tool called the Adolescent Risk Reduction and Resilient Outcomes Work-Plan (ARROW) to accompany the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth. The ARROW includes a decision support system, guide, and training, and is one of the first tools of its kind. To evaluate the ARROW, we conducted two studies: (a) a vignette study with 178 professionals and (b) a field study with 320 propensity-score matched adolescents. Most professionals (>98%) rated the ARROW as useful. Moreover, compared with (a) unstructured plans and (b) a simple form, ARROW plans were more likely to include supported interventions, adhere to best practices, and integrate culturally tailored approaches for Indigenous adolescents. Formulations also showed improvements. However, further research is needed on strategies to bridge risk assessment and risk management.

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Do Community Structural Characteristics Moderate the Association Between Mental Health and the Frequency and Severity of Violent-Behavioral Outcomes in Community Respondents?

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-12-02
Abstract: 

In this prospective study, we examined the association between three types of mental health symptom clusters (i.e., psychotic, internalizing, and externalizing) and the frequency and severity of violent-behavioral outcomes, and whether community disadvantage, residential instability, and criminogenic facility density moderated these associations. Study data were derived from 258 community-dwelling adults nested in 60 postal forward sortation areas (FSAs) in a large metropolitan area in Western Canada who were assessed twice over a 6-month period. In addition, census and administrative data were obtained on the same areas. Controlling for sociodemographic characteristics (i.e., age, gender, ethnicity, relationship status, and employment status), lifetime history of violent-behavioral outcomes, and community structural characteristics, internalizing and externalizing mental health symptoms were significantly positively associated with the frequency and severity of subsequent violence perpetration and with the severity of subsequent violent victimization. Several significant interactions were observed: internalizing symptoms increased the risk of frequent and severe violence perpetration in FSAs with high but not low disadvantage, and externalizing symptoms increased the risk of frequent violent victimization in FSAs with a high but not low criminogenic facility density. Only the interactive association of internalizing symptoms and community disadvantage with the severity of violence perpetration, however, remained significant after Bonferroni correction was applied. These findings provide tentative support that associations between mental health and violent-behavioral outcomes can vary with community context. The implication of these findings for assessing and managing violent-behavioral outcomes in the community is discussed.

Document type: 
Article
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The Prevalence of Sexual and Gender Minority Youth in the Justice System: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019
Abstract: 

Theoretical models, such as the minority stress model, suggest that sexual and gender minority (SGM) youth may be overrepresented in the justice system. However, few studies have examined rates of SGM youth in the system, and even fewer have compared them with rates of these youth in the broader community. To obtain a more accurate estimate, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 31,258 youths and compared rates of SGM youth in the justice system with those in the community. Contrary to claims that SGM youth are overrepresented generally, this review suggests that sexual minority girls, specifically, are disproportionally involved in the justice system. Rates of involvement appeared to differ across ethnic subgroups of sexual minority youth, and evidence is inconclusive regarding the prevalence of gender minority youth in the system. Implications of these findings for researchers and justice system professionals are discussed.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

The Role of Life Satisfaction in Predicting Youth Violence and Offending: A Prospective Examination

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-10-13
Abstract: 

Life satisfaction in adolescence has been shown to protect against numerous negative outcomes (e.g., substance use, sexual risk-taking), but limited work has directly explored the relationship between life satisfaction and youth violence and offending. As such, we conducted a prospective assessment to explore this relationship among community (n = 334) and at-risk youth (n = 99). Findings suggest life satisfaction is significantly associated with decreased offending and violence within both samples and adds incremental value above established risk factors in predicting violent and total offending among community youth. Furthermore, moderation analyses indicate that the protective value of life satisfaction is greater for youth with high callous–unemotional traits. Mediation analyses suggest that youth who are unsatisfied with their lives may seek out substance use, in turn elevating risk of offending. Together, these findings indicate that efforts to improve overall life satisfaction may help prevent adolescent offending. However, future research is needed.

Document type: 
Article
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Assessing the Validity of The Self Versus Other Interest Implicit Association Test

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020-06-01
Abstract: 

There is great variability in the ways that humans treat one another, ranging from extreme compassion (e.g., philanthropy, organ donation) to self-interested cruelty (e.g., theft, murder). What underlies and explains this variability? Past research has primarily examined human prosociality using explicit self-report scales, which are susceptible to self-presentation biases. However, these concerns can be alleviated with the use of implicit attitude tests that assess automatic associations. Here, we introduce and assess the validity of a new test of implicit prosociality–the Self versus Other Interest Implicit Association Test (SOI-IAT)–administered to two samples in pre-registered studies: regular blood donors (Study 1; N = 153) and a nationally representative sample of Americans (Study 2; N = 467). To assess validity, we investigated whether SOI-IAT scores were correlated with explicit measures of prosociality within each sample and compared SOI-IAT scores of the control sample (representative sample of Americans) with the prosocial sample (blood donors). While SOI-IAT scores were higher in the prosocial blood donor sample, SOI-IAT scores were generally uncorrelated with explicit measures and actual prosocial behaviour. Thus, the SOI-IAT may be able to detect group differences in everyday prosociality, but future testing is needed for a more robust validation of the SOI-IAT. These unexpected findings underscore the importance of sharing null and mixed results to fill gaps in the scientific record and highlight the challenges of conducting research on implicit processes.

Document type: 
Article
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Predictive Validity of the SAVRY With Indigenous and Caucasian Female and Male Adolescents on Probation

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020-03-26
Abstract: 

Indigenous people and the courts have emphasized that it is important to examine whether violence risk assessment tools are valid and appropriate for Indigenous youth. However, studies are scarce. Therefore, we examined the predictive validity of youth probation officers’ SAVRY ratings for 744 Canadian youth, including 299 Indigenous youth (219 male, 80 female), and 445 Caucasian youth (357 male, 88 female) in a prospective field study. The SAVRY summary risk ratings and risk total scores significantly predicted violent and any reoffending for Indigenous female and male youth with medium effect sizes. Relatively few significant differences in the predictive validity emerged for Indigenous and Caucasian youth. However, Historical, Protective, and Risk Total scores predicted any recidivism better for Caucasian males than Indigenous males. Also, Indigenous youth scored significantly higher on all risk domains than Caucasian youth. Opposite to predictions, the rates of false positives were higher for Caucasian youth than for Indigenous youth. Based on the results, the SAVRY appears to be a reasonable tool to use for assessing risk in youth who are Indigenous. However, assessors should take steps to ensure that they use the SAVRY in a culturally appropriate manner, such as considering cultural factors in case formulations and treatment planning as the SAVRY does not ground assessments in an understanding of factors such as colonialism. In addition, future research should examine culturally salient risk factors (e.g., discrimination) and examine potential causes of higher risk scores in Indigenous youth, particularly the role of both past and present-day colonialism.

Document type: 
Article
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Ten-year Trends in Physical Dating Victimization among Adolescent Boys and Girls in British Columbia, Canada

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-07-18
Abstract: 

Physical dating violence (PDV) victimization among adolescents is a serious global problem. Although knowledge of trends in PDV victimization can help guide programming and health policies, little research has examined whether the prevalence of PDV victimization has increased, decreased, or remained stable over time among non-U.S.-based samples of youth. In addition, few studies have directly tested whether disparities in PDV victimization between boys and girls have narrowed, widened, or remained unchanged in recent years. To address these gaps, we used school-based data from the British Columbia Adolescent Health Surveys (BC AHS) of 2003, 2008, and 2013 (n boys = 18,441 and n girls = 17,459) to examine 10-year trends in PDV victimization. We also tested whether trends differed across self-reported sex. Data from the 2003 to 2013 BC AHS revealed that recent PDV victimization rates had significantly decreased among youth overall (5.9% to 5.0%) and boys (8.0% to 5.8%), but not girls (5.3% to 4.2%). Although boys had steeper declines than girls in PDV victimization rates, year-by-sex interactions indicate that the sex gap in PDV victimization had not significantly narrowed. Moreover, rates of PDV victimization over the 10-year period indicated significantly higher rates of PDV victimization among boys compared to girls. Despite positive declines in recent rates of PDV victimization among youth, important differences in rates of PDV victimization between boys and girls remain. These findings underscore the need for greater attention to sex differences in research and programming and health policies to reduce PDV victimization and the sex disparities therein.

Document type: 
Article
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