Written by Gabriela L. CULDA, Adrian N. OPRE, Andrei C. MIU on . Posted in Volume XX, Nr 3


Gabriela L. CULDA *, Adrian N. OPRE, Andrei C. MIU

Department of Psychology, School of Psychology, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania


Antisocial behavior elicits in some people feelings of guilt, but not in others. As a moral and prosocial emotion, guilt has been related to an increased motivation for adaptive behavioral modification. Psychological research suggests that this discrepancy between legal views (i.e., people who are found guilty of illegal behavior in a court of law) and personal (i.e., emotional) experience may be modulated by personality traits such as guilt-proneness. Moreover, there is evidence that situational factors such as perceived social support and empathy could contribute to guilt experience. The present study investigated whether perceived social support and empathy predicted guilt proneness in inmates (for whom behavior modification is desired). The total sample (N = 79) included adult inmates, either convicted for the first time or recidivists. Guilt-proneness, empathy and social support were assessed using self-report scales that were completed anonymously by the participants. The results revealed that in inmates, guilt-proneness was predicted by perceived social support, but not by empathy. Guilt may be an important mechanism for improving the rehabilitation process, given that is tied to reparatory tendencies in norm-breaking behaviors (i.e., criminal behavior). Our study showed that higher levels of social support can be an important factor in supporting inmates’ rehabilitation process. Future studies could analyze the justifications inmates provide regarding their feelings of guilt, in order to better understand how inmates attempt to reduce or eliminate them.

KEYWORDS: inmates, guilt proneness, social support, empathy.


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