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Emotions and Young Offenders’ Suitability for Victim-Offender Mediation

Vieira, Tracey A
June 4, 2015

Source: (2003) Paper presented at the 111th Annual Conference of the American Psychological Association, Toronto, Canada, August 7-10.

Although evidence indicates that Victim-Offender Mediation (VOM) provides an effective alternative to traditional sanctioning for young offenders, research investigating suitable candidates for VOM is lacing. Reintegrative shaming is theorized to be the mechanism underlying successful mediation, however, it is difficult to determine whether shame is the emotional reaction actually reflected by the theory’s definition of shaming. The arousal of state shame and guilt following VOM was evaluated within a sample of 23 young offenders. The relationships between this emotional arousal, shame or guilt proneness, empathic orientation, and victim presence during sanctioning were also explored. Finally, an investigation of whether these individual emotional characteristics predict short-term, prosocial outcomes (i.e., satisfaction, positive attitude) was conducted. State guilt was significantly aroused among offenders diverted to VOM, however, only when a victim representative rather than a victim participated in mediation. Regression analyses demonstrated that pre-sanction guilt levels and cognitive empathic orientation significantly predicted the magnitude of guilt arousal, and in turn, guilt arousal predicted greater satisfaction and positive attitude. These findings conflict with the perspective that shame arousal underlies the success of VOM and indicate a need for attention to how the mediation process differs as a function of victim versus victim representative involvement. (author’s abstract).


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