This study examined the influence of group climate on empathy in a Dutch youth correctional facility in a sample of 59 incarcerated delinquent boys. Higher levels of empathy have been shown to be associated with less delinquent and more prosocial behaviour and may therefore be vital for successful rehabilitation and recidivism reduction. Although empathy was originally considered to be a trait, recent neurobiological research has shown that empathy has state-like properties in that levels of empathy change in response to the social environment. This study showed that differences in group climate were associated with cognitive empathy in juvenile delinquents but not with affective empathy. It is speculated that inmates' state-depressive feelings and anxiety could diminish the effects of prison group climate on affective empathy. The discussion focuses on group dynamics in youth correctional facilities. A positive prison group climate in a youth correctional facility could turn out to be a major factor contributing to effectiveness of secure institutional treatment.
|Number of pages||12|
|Journal||International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology|
|Publication status||Published - Dec 2012|