Criminal Thinking, Moral Disengagement and Psychological Wellbeing in Prisoners

Thesis Title: Criminal Thinking, Moral Disengagement and Psychological Wellbeing in Prisoners

Student Name: Kumail Raza Abdi

Supervisor: Farah Malik, PhD

Degree: MSc

Year: 2016- 2018

Department: Institute of Applied Psychology

University: Punjab University, Lahore, Pakistan

Corresponding Address: Department of Applied Psychology, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan. Email:, Phone: 92-42-9231245


The issue of crime is the major concern for the whole population and is often investigated in psychological perspective because crime is found to be associated with psychological issues (Cohen, 2008). In the current era, researchers in the field of criminology and forensic psychology are paying particular attention to the psychological wellbeing of prisoners. It is a matter of great concern to understand the criminal behaviour, one major factor in exploring criminal behaviour is determined by measuring the criminal thinking of the prisoners (Garnefski & Okma, 1996). However moral disengagement is also considered crucial factor in the description of criminal behaviour (Gini, Pozzoli, & Hymel, 2014). The present study was conducted to explore the relationship between criminal thinking, moral disengagement and psychological wellbeing in prisoners. It was hypothesized that there would be a positive relationship between criminal thinking and moral disengagement, criminal thinking and moral disengagement would have negative relationship with psychological wellbeing, and furthermore criminal thinking and moral disengagement would negatively predict the psychological wellbeing in prisoners. Correlational research design was used and the sample of adult prisoners (N = 60) was selected from District Jail Lahore by using purposive sampling technique. For assessment purpose demographic sheet, Criminal Thinking Scale (Knight, Garner, Simpson, Morey, & Flynn, 2006), Moral Disengagement Scale (Bandura, Barbaranelli, Caprara & Pastorelli, 1996) and Mental Health Continuum-Short Form (Lamers, Westerhof, Bohlmeijer, Klooster & Keyes, 2011) were used. The results showed significant positive relationship between criminal thinking and moral disengagement whereas, significant negative correlation was found between criminal thinking and psychological wellbeing. Similarly moral disengagement was found to be negatively correlated with psychological wellbeing in prisoners. Regression analysis revealed that criminal thinking negatively predicted psychological wellbeing. Moreover significant group differences on psychological wellbeing were found between convicted and under trial prisoners. The research findings may be useful for forensic psychologists, jail administration and for the relevant policymakers.

Keywords: Criminal thinking, moral disengagement, psychological wellbeing prisoners.

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