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A multigroup analysis of reintegrative shaming theory: An application to drunk driving offenses.

Dansie, Elizabeth J.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2010) Dissertation. Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology. Utah State University.

A restorative justice alternative to crime prevention termed reintegrative shaming theory by Braithwaite has seen increased attention as an alternative to retributive justice, although empirical investigations of its efficacy are limited. The purpose of the present study was to test confirmatory measurement and structural models of reintegrative shaming theory in order to assess the underlying theoretical model and the application of this theory in response to drunk driving offenses. Nine latent constructs were included in these models: reintegration, stigmatization, perceived fairness, self-esteem, shame-guilt, embarrassment-exposure, unresolved shame, offender responsibility, and family support.

Multigroup structural equation modeling was used to assess for measurement invariance of indicators used to measure these nine latent constructs between 724 drunk driving offenders randomly assigned to traditional court processing versus offenders assigned to reintegrative shaming conferencing following arrest. Partial metric and partial scalar invariance were found. Thus, analyses proceeded by conducting tests for significant differences in the latent means between groups. Offenders assigned to conferencing reported significantly higher mean values on the constructs reintegration, perceived fairness, self-esteem, shame-guilt, and family support, supporting Braithwaite’s theory.

Finally, a structural model was hypothesized based upon Braithwaite’s theory to assess the relationships between the latent constructs. Three additional structural paths were included to achieve an acceptable model fit. This structural model was found to be partially invariant between groups. As predicted, a higher level of reintegration was associated with greater perceived fairness, while a higher level of stigmatization was related to decreased self-esteem and lower perceived fairness. In turn, greater self-esteem and perceived fairness were significantly related to higher reported experiences of shameguilt and lower ratings of embarrassment-exposure. Greater perceived fairness also corresponded to lower reported unresolved shame. Finally, greater shame-guilt was significantly related to greater offender responsibility and family support, while unresolved shame was significantly related to less offender responsibility acceptance. The findings from the current study support Braithwaite’s hypotheses regarding the importance and benefits of disapproving of the criminal act and not the person, while allowing offenders to accept responsibility for their actions and attempt to remediate the wrong that they committed. (author’s abstract)


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