Does executive functioning predict behaviour change in offenders following the enhanced thinking skills programme?
This thesis investigated the relation between executive functioning and behavioural change in offenders following the Enhanced Thinking Skills (ETS) cognitive rehabilitation programme. A literature review was undertaken which investigated the relation between impaired executive functioning (IEF) and violent behaviour. It also examined and
compared rehabilitation programmes available for both medical patients with impaired EF and for offenders. The review concluded that an increased propensity for aggression and violent behaviour is a possible consequence of impaired EF and that aggressive offenders are more likely than the general population to have impaired executive functioning. Medical rehabilitation strategies for aggressive patients and forensic rehabilitation strategies for violent offenders were both found to focus upon teaching skills related to executive functioning.
It was therefore hypothesised that the cognitive skills rehabilitation programmes in use within the HM Prison Service may be particularly effective with offenders with IEF.
An experimental study was undertaken to investigate whether behaviour change following ETS could be predicted by the offenders' IEF. It also addressed whether this predictive function was above and beyond that predicted by IQ, demographic information and social compliance. These factors were measured and entered into regression analyses, with the post ETS changes in the positive and negative scales of the Behaviour Rating Scale as the independent variables in two separate analyses.
Aspects of executive functioning were found to be predictive of outcome, with those with poorer executive functioning showing the most improvement. Participantage and number of previous convictions was found to be predictive of reductions in negative behaviour but not of improvements in positive behaviour; with older participants and those with more previous convictions showing the greatest degree of improvement.
The strengths and limitations of the study were then critically reviewed.