The National Science Foundation recently awarded funding to Dr. Ray Paternoster for his research grant, Decision Making Among Offenders and Non-Offenders. The study examines the decision making styles and strategies of a sample of serious criminal offenders recently released from prison and a sample of similarly aged non-offenders. It also relates decision making styles to post-release criminal offending and success on release such as jobs, family adjustment, and drug/alcohol use.
A sample of 500 imprisoned offenders (300 males and 200 females) who are currently residing in a pre-release center in Delaware will be selected. A comparison non-offender sample of 250 non-offenders (150 males and 100 females) from the general community (in Delaware) will also be selected. All subjects will complete a survey that asks them questions about their decision making style. The research team will measure subjects on several characteristics that have been shown in past research in psychology and economics to be related to decision making, such as risk seeking, risk avoidance and perceptions of both formal and informal sanctions. Respondents will also respond to one hypothetical scenario involving aggression. In addition, a subsample of 120 of the offenders (80 males and 40 females) will be selected and interviewed in the community approximately 9 months after their release from prison. Further, the research team will collect one year follow-up information (arrest history since release, employment, and the results of drug testing) from official sources from all those in the offender sample (N=500).