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Anger is a natural human response to feeling attacked, frustrated, deceived, treated unfairly, etc. It is closely linked to aggression and often plays a role in aggressive acts. There are three types of anger: open aggression, passive aggression, and assertive anger.
Anger management focuses on therapeutically addressing these feelings of anger by assuming violent or criminal behaviours result from anger and/or frustration. Various techniques help perpetrators control and manage their feelings to reduce crime.
The restorative justice programmes focus more on the retribution aspect of criminal behaviour. This programme emphasises criminals making amends for their crimes to the people they have directly affected.
Aggression in psychology is behaviour that can physically or psychologically harm people or affect surrounding objects in the environment.
Anger is linked to many crimes, including aggressive ones. So far, we’ve learnt about how many factors influence human anger/aggression, e.g.:
Although anger is normal, adaptive human behaviour, sometimes it becomes maladaptive.
Dr DiGiuseppe has developed two psychological tests that measure dysfunctional anger: the anger disorders scale (ADS) and the anger regulation and expression scale (ARES). The former measures anger in adults and the latter in adolescents and children.
The Novaco Anger Scale measures how a person experiences anger. Novaco (2013) referred to prisons as ‘efficient anger factories’ because of their social climate, overcrowding, hostile attribution bias, violent prisoners, and irrational thinking.
Anger management therapy is a cognitive behavioural therapy aiming to alter an individual’s reaction and way of thinking in response to an adverse situation that elicits anger, which is different from the ‘token economy’ solution.
The aims of anger management therapy are:
The cognitive restructuring – allows a greater sense of self-control and awareness over their anger.
Regulation of arousal – to learn how to control one’s physiological state.
Behaviour strategies – learning different things to regulate behaviour, e.g. problem-solving skills, assertiveness, and strategic withdrawal.
Several techniques and methods of managing anger exist. Overall, three phases involved in anger management therapies are:
Cognitive preparation includes identifying which situations cause anger and encouraging self-reflection to identify the irrational thoughts and triggers.
Skills training involves self-regulation, relations, and cognitive flexibility using techniques advised by the therapist to help avoid the potentially triggering situations and/or deal with them appropriately.
Applications training involves using the above skills in non-threatening, controlled situations to practice them for the real world.
Stress inoculation therapy (SIT) is a psychotherapy technique used to help patients prepare themselves for handling stressful situations in advance. This should be successfully done with the least amount of upset feelings. In SIT, the therapist is ‘inoculating’, i.e. preparing patients in becoming more resistant to the stressors’ effects, just like a vaccine works against the effects of a disease.
Those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often use SIT as a form of therapy.
Several studies proved the success of the anger management exercises included in the therapy. Some studies include:
Taylor and Novaco (2006) reviewed a few studies of anger management therapy in a meta-analysis and found 75% improvement rates.
Landenberger and Lipsey (2005) analysed 58 studies that reviewed the effects of CBT on prisoner offenders, with 20 of them using anger control in the therapy. They found anger control was a significant factor in influencing improvement rates.
However, Howelles et al. (2005) looked at five meta-analyses and found anger management programmes only had a small to moderate effect on improving anger control rates. Those who wanted to improve pre-treatment showed the best rates, which helped predict the results. Still, overall there were no statistically significant differences between the controls and the experimental groups.
Law (1997) reported a research study where only one participant showed improvement.
Overall, anger management therapies employ cognitive behavioural techniques to address anger and/or frustration to reduce acts induced by these volatile emotions. However, we need to ask whether or not these techniques are helpful or successful in addressing anger. Let us consider some strengths and weaknesses of anger management therapy.
No consistent methodology for anger management therapy exists, making it hard to compare their efficacy.
The duration of the therapy can vary.
No accurate, standardised measurement of anger can be used to determine effectiveness since, so far, studies all use self-report scales. Self-report scales are also subject to social desirability bias, acquiescence, and misunderstandings.
‘Hello-Goodbye Effect’ – when the participant enrols and starts the therapy wanting improvement and wanting to help the experimenter and their research, they seem to improve/show improvement. But once the therapy ends, they shortly go back to how they once were.
Most programmes only assess anger management’s short term effects and do not test to see if the improvement lasted in the long term.
McGuire (2008) performed a meta-analysis and found there were cases of reduced re-offending a year after the anger management therapy (long term) compared to just testing participants on probation (short term).
However, there’s a good chance that this type of success (improvement in anger) is not just in response to anger management therapy but also due to having some kind of general support from treatment, i.e. someone there to listen to you and be there. Then, when this goes away at the end of the programme, the support system is lost.
Anger management therapy doesn’t consider genetic predispositions, e.g. people possessing the MAOA gene variant or higher than typicaltestosterone levels, which may be why such individuals are angry and aggressive, and this theory doesn’t approach treating anger from a biological perspective.
There may be cultural bias. Some cultures identify angry/aggressive behaviours as positive and adaptive, and others recognise the same behaviours as negative and maladaptive.
The therapy requires personal motivation for one to complete and benefit from it. Studies that include some other sort of benefit, e.g. release from prison for offenders on probation, lack validity.
The previously mentioned studies provide research support for the effectiveness of anger management therapy.
Now consider the following two studies.
Ireland (2004) is quite important for your exam, so remember this one!
Loza-Fanous (1999) claimed the link between anger and crime in research relies on lab studies. They found no difference in anger levels between violent and non-violent offenders, suggesting no link between the two. They, overall, cast doubt on the efficacy of assessing anger and using it to predict violent and non-violent behaviours.
Establishing such a link can give offenders the excuse to commit such crimes, and they could use their anger as reasoning for their actions.
Howells et al. (2005) argue that anger isn’t a necessary condition or a sufficient reason for violent crimes and aggressive behaviour.
The goal of the restorative justice programme is that the participants should restore the situation to how it was before they committed the crime. This programme came out of the failure to produce measurable effects and provide satisfactory results for the victim through programmes such as ‘token economy’.
Restorative justice programmes thus involve a mediated visit between the victims and the perpetrators so the victim can seek closure. The prisoner can make amends for their crimes directly to the victim while also taking responsibility.
The aims of restorative justice programmes are:
Victims show how the crime affected their lives, allowing the criminal to empathise and take responsibility for what they did, involving them in their rehabilitation.
Offenders may try to offer money or community service as compensation, which is psychological and shows that they feel guilty.
Offenders may also show empathy and understanding of the impact of their actions on the victim when the victim explains their distress.
Atonement for crimes can be helpful to the victim because victimisation is reduced due to them having a voice. It can also be psychologically helpful to the victim as they see the offender is directly responsible for their crimes and can find closure.
Wachtel and McCold (2003) developed a theoretical framework of restorative justice. They proposed that restorative justice should start with the relationship between the victim and offender rather than the punishment given to the offender.
Punishing the offender doesn’t allow the relationship and the harm done to be healed.
Justice involves different stakeholders; the more stakeholders involved in the process, the more restorative it is. If one is involved, it would be partly restorative; if two, then mostly, and if three, then fully, e.g. the stakeholders involved in a laptop being robbed would be:
Police/authority or community member(s)
If the government or insurance company provide compensation, then it’s not restorative. The offender should be made to provide compensation or return the laptop.
The components of restorative justice involve victim reparation, communication of care reconciliation, and the offender taking responsibility. Let us take a deeper look into these different aspects of restorative justice.
Restorative justice typology represents how stakeholders interact and how restorative justice is produced.
Wachtel and McCold (2003) created a window to represent the types of ways offenders are treated when they're being socially disciplined.
One type of restorative justice programme is peace circles.
Peace circles are when a group of people sit in a circle and talk about a specific incident or event.
Peace circles are held to create an environment of respect in which the community supports the victim and also in which the offender is welcomed so that mutual understanding can be developed.
The main aim of peace circles is to support offenders and prevent them from re-offending, rather than excluding them.
Some other types of restorative justice programmes are:
Victim/offender mediation or dialogue.
Victim assistance and involvement.
Former prisoner assistance and involvement.
Reduction of DMI (Disparate Minority Incarceration)
Most people would argue that it is not suitable for all crimes. However, it would be best to apply it only to lesser crimes that didn't severely harm or deceive others, e.g. stealing, breaking in.
But when it comes to crimes like rape and murder, restorative justice may not be appropriate. Confrontation, even with mediation, between the victim and perpetrator could further harm the victim and cause unnecessary trauma. However, victims can confront the criminal in court, which can be partly restorative.
These programmes offer the victim a chance to seek personal justice and closure and allow the criminal to take responsibility for their crimes and atone for them directly. However, the programmes are not always perfect. We need to assess their strengths and weaknesses first to understand if they are appropriate.
Research exists in support of the effectiveness of restorative justice programmes. The UK Restorative Justice Council (2015) reported that face-to-face meetings with offenders satisfied 85% of victims, including violent and non-violent crime victims.
Avon and Somerset found that a satisfaction rate of 92.5% was reported even with victims of violent crimes.
Sherman and Strang (2007)’s meta-analysis of 20 studies comprising 142 criminals involved face to face meetings of the victim and offender. They found that it significantly lowered repeat offending for some of the offenders, and reduced the potential psychological harm to the crime victims’ by reducing PTSD symptoms and other involved costs. Overall, both victims and the criminals were more satisfied with restorative justice programmes than the conventional criminal justice procedures.
Ethical issues include potential for psychological and emotional harm for the victim and the possibility of them feeling more negative after the confrontation rather than better.
If multiple victims gang up on the offender or if the offender is a child, these programmes can be harmful.
Benefits need to be balanced for both the offenders and the victims, which is not always the case and is hard to control.
Some people are reluctant to use it and are unaware of what it truly means or does.
Anger management therapy is a cognitive behavioural type of therapy that aims to alter the way of thinking in an individual in response to an adverse situation that may elicit anger. It encourages self-control, regulation of arousal, and teaches behavioural strategies for patients to use in the future so they have appropriate reactions to situations that may have previously angered them.
The goal of the restorative justice programme is for participants to restore the situation to how it was before they committed the crime.
Restorative justice programmes usually involve a mediated visit between the victims and the perpetrators so the victim can seek closure. The prisoner can make amends for their crimes directly to the victim whilst also taking responsibility.
Some types of Restorative Justice Programmes are:
Three types of anger are open aggression, passive aggression, and assertive anger.
What is the definition of aggression?
Aggression in psychology is behaviour that can physically or psychologically harm yourself or others or affect surrounding objects in the environment.
What is the definition of anger?
Anger is an emotion that is a natural human response to feeling attacked, frustrated, deceived, treated in an unfair way, etc.
What is anger management therapy?
Anger Management Therapy is a cognitive therapy that aims to alter the reaction and way of thinking of an individual in response to the adverse situation that elicits anger.
What are the 2 scales of measuring anger called and who were they developed by?
The Anger Disorders Scale (ADS) and the Anger Regulation and Expression Scale (ARES). They were developed by Dr DiGiuseppe.
The ADS and the ARES scales are for measuring anger. Which type of people is each scale for?
ADS measures anger in adults and the ARES measures anger in children and adolescents.
What is the name of the scale which measures how a person experiences anger?
The Novaco Anger Scale
What is the goal of restorative justice?
The goal of restorative justice programme is that the participants should restore the situation to how it was before they committed the crime.
What are the two main aims of restorative justice programmes?
The goal of restorative justice programme is that the participants should restore the situation to how it was before they committed the crime.
What does SIT stand for and what is it?
Stress Inoculation Therapy (SIT) is a psychotherapy technique which is used to help patients to prepare themselves for handling stressful situations in advance
Which 2 steps does SIT have as a part of cognitive preparation?
Cognitive Preparation: Includes identifying which situations cause anger and in which is that anger adaptive or maladaptive. This has the steps:
How does the victim benefit from restorative justice programmes?
This can be helpful for the victim as victimisation is reduced since they now have a voice. It can also be helpful for the victim psychologically, reducing their feeling of being harmed, by listening to the offender's side of the story and trying to understand the motives behind their actions.
Which 2 things did Wachtel and McCold (2003) focus on in their theoretical framework of restorative justice?
Wachtel and McCold (2003) developed a theoretical framework of restorative justice, which focuses on the relationship between the offender and victim, and also the stakeholders that should be involved in the process for true justice to be upheld.
Should restorative justice be used for all crime types, what do the majority agree on?
It's been pointed out that restorative justice is not suitable for all crimes, just less severe ones that had minimum harm of others.
What is an ethical problem for the victim in restorative justice?
There is a potential of psychological and emotional harm for the victim and they can feel more negative after the confrontation rather than better.
What is an ethical problem for the offender in restorative justice?
It can harm the offender if there are multiple victims who gang up on the offender, or if the offender is a child.
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