Example Of Research Paper On Cognitive Behavior And Behavioral Change

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Psychology, Behavior, Victimology, Brain, Treatment, Study, Education, Risk

Pages: 6

Words: 1650

Published: 2021/02/18

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Cognitive behavior and behavioral change

Changing the offender’s behavior and reducing the risk of the likelihood of the behavior occurring remains one of the most difficult aspects of criminal justice system. In recent past, several studies have been done providing instances that have proven that this to be possible. Cognitive behavioral treatment comes in all shapes and sizes with some requiring an extensive and a prolonged treatment while others just a short duration of treatment. In the past, programs centered on cognitive or behavioral activities but currently these programs are integrating both. According to Andrews & Bonta (2010), this has resulted in an increased improvement in behavior and a general reduction of recidivism. In fact, it has been confirmed that cognitive behavior is the best approach to handle recidivism among high-risk offenders. This is because they always result in the best results. These programs operate in two major models namely, cognitive restructuring and cognitive skills developments. Cognitive restructuring refers to changing the minds of criminals who believes that since everybody does what they do, nothing wrong with their behavior. On the other hand, cognitive skills development refers to the whole aspect of building skills and development plans that addresses inappropriate criminal programs. This study is important since it can be used to develop the best treatment for high risks offenders (Wolfred, 1977).

Literature review

Traditionally, cognitive behavior comes from distinct fields, namely, cognitive behavior and behavioral theory. For instance, behavioral focuses on the external factors while cognitive emphasizes the importance of using the internal thought process. According to Wolfred (1977), these therapies started developing as early as 1960s and blended both methods in the processes of treatment.
According to analysts, it is believed that people always become conscious of their criminal activities and make an effort at changing them. This is because any person’s thoughts are as a result of the experience that he has undergone in the past. This has been effective in the treatment of criminal offenders as it tries to reduce the effects of criminal activities amongst these people. After these programs, it was realized that most offenders improve their social skills, critical reasoning, and self-control. Studies also indicated that any activity that was done as a form of punishment and deterrence increased the instances of recidivism that was not good. Andrews and Zinger (1990) explain that, when the behavior change was based on programs such as counseling and skill building there were high chances of reducing these risks. This means that cognitive behavioral approaches were the most effective treatment for high-risk offenders.
Andrews and Bonta (2010) postulate that, beliefs, values, and attitudes always affect criminal activities that offenders undertake. For instance, they can interfere with the way people view reality and even get involved in these bad behaviors. Generally, the cognitive behavior is an important program that can be used to correct a situated way of thinking that an individual has, moreover, the therapy is very effective in high-risk behavior. The greatest of this is found among the highest offenders who were able to reduce their criminal activities after passing through these programs. Cognitive behavioral approaches have directly been used in programs such as aggression replacement therapy, reasoning, and rehabilitation. Apparently, even though these studies showed that these methods were effective, no single program was noted to be effective than the other. There is also a curriculum that has been developed refers to as thinking for change that is also effective in behavior change. Both cognitive restructuring and cognitive development works in helping an individual to change their way of thinking. This is because most people use their distorted thinking to justify the way they behave (Pearson et al., 2002).
According to Andrews and Zinger (1990), other studies also confirmed that cognitive behavioral change is crucial in preventing recidivism. For instance, a Meta-analysis that was done to investigate the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral change showed that it is effective for high-risk offenders. The results showed that the odds of success among offenders were more than one and a half times greater than the control group. It also showed that there was a reduction in recidivism by up to over 25%. Furthermore, it confirmed that cognitive behavioral change that was offering individual attention, counseling and anger control, cognitive restricting were the most effective ways of treatments. Some analysts have also argued that most offenders always learn through doing but not through teaching hence the need of training them new skills. The key to successful treatment is to evaluate the level of the offender and look for the appropriate treatment that he or she can be given. For instance, low-risk offenders should not be mixed with high-risk offenders as this might lead to poor results. The treatment methods should develop in relation to the offenders’ risks. Apparently offenders who showed great chances of success were the ones with the high length of criminality. These may include robbers, murderers among others. The study also indicated that it is not just the offenders who had thinking errors, but rather even normal people had thinking errors to justify their behavior that was against the norms. For example, most people convince themselves that it is normal to speed since every other person does it traffic. The question that has been asked now and before is that do cognitive behavioral treatments reduce the recidivism rate for high-risk offenders? Statement of research

Do cognitive behavioral treatments reduce recidivism rate for high-risk offenders

The subjects for this study were young and old offenders who had been involved the criminal activities in the past or those who were being treated while on probation. These offenders were drawn from the population of the general public. They were not restricted to a particular type of population. The age range was between the ages of 15 years old to 50 years old and the class of offenses was drug abusers, general criminals sex offenders, robbers, murder suspects among other high risks offenders.


This study was conducted using a quasi or a randomized study method that compared cognitive-behavioral treatment program with controls that did not include the cognitive treatments. Subjects were eligible for this study only if they were statistically controlled or matched with the treatment variables, their criminal background characteristics, and demographic backgrounds. In case individuals had started the programs but dropped out or if they were offered treatment but refused, they were not included in the study procedure since they could create some bias in the process. The control groups were those who are dormant, those in the waitlist, these who were not in any treatment or those who were undergoing normal treatments. Furthermore, both published and unpublished sources were used for the study. These included Meta-analysis data bases, data base searches, articles, relevant government websites, journals, and informal sources. The search for adult offenders came to around 2020 offenders and 700 reports while that of the juvenile was 1300 offenders and 240 reports to be analyzed. After the review of all these sources, researchers settled on around 68 samples that met the conditions put in place for the study to take place. This method is one of the best since it uses constructions that are already existing hence does not require a lot of work. Moreover, it has more external validity that is like the real world. It also avoids ethical concerns exist. Besides, it is much more feasible given the time and logistical constraints that might be there. This was considered because this study required secondary information. Above all, it is usually the most practical approach that can be used to conduct his type of study (Miltenberger, 1997). 


The numbers and specific types of behavior changes were compared with the control groups.
Behavioral measurements
Standards behavior was done and developed to maintain appropriate behaviors.
Contingencies refers to a system where risk offenders signs a contract with the supervisor indicating the punishments that are supposed to be given if they do not behave well and the rewards that they should be expecting they behave well.
Token reward, is a system in which the offenders who behave well where they stay by performing small chores such as cleaning the living area and helping others are rewarded with some tokens that are later exchanged for privileges.

Cognitive behavior

This involves training programs or counseling to help the offender develop one or more skills that are essential to deter them from getting into problems. These includes problems solving skills, social skills, self-control training, anger management, thinking errors approach and other deficits such as relapse preventions. In these programs, all treatments were considered for relevant functions. The dependent variable in this study was recidivism. It was the measure that was used was to arrest the behavior of the individual who was involved in this.

Reliability of the measures

All the documents were assigned to one individual for full coding. Once the process was complete, they were again taken to quality control person. Balon (2009) argues that, in case the quality controller found any mistakes in the coding system, he makes the necessary changes that needed to be made. The researchers also made sure that only the final quality controlled data was included for data analysis. The reliability of the coding was determined using the second quality controller, and this ensured that the data used in the final analysis only included those that had been thoroughly checked and concluded to be without any error. For instance, reliability that was 99% was considered as a highly reliable data that could be used for the study. This was gotten from the length of treatment in days and the sample size of the study population.
During the reliability of the coding quality controllers had the study documents given by the initial coders who gathered the data. Apparently, they were not aware of the coding that was there hence they could not do anything about changing this. The analysis was based on the second coder who was thought to be more reliable. The rationale was based on the argument that the final data had been checked by several coders hence had to be much more reliable than the first one. The study therefore represented only independent comparisons of the study.
According to the study, for moderate offenders, it was believed that 100 hours of treatment was just enough for treatment. On the contrary, this had no effect on high-risk offenders who needed more time to realize the effects of treatment. This means, at high-risk offenders required 200 hours or more to reduce this risk of recidivism. Besides if the offender was extremely of high risk, it was considered that he might need even an excess of 300 hours to realize these effects. Some of the factors that were looked onto include anti-social behavior and anti-social personality among offenders.

Data analysis

Regression analysis was used for data analysis. In data analysis, it is assumed that the best quality study methods and data were used in the study. This was to ensure that there are no design problems, no attrition, and no withdrawals from the studies. Moreover, it is also assumed that the data that was used is of high- risk offenders who were studied two times per week (Izzo & Ross, 1990).


Andrews, D. A., & Bonta, J. (2010). The psychology of criminal conduct. Albany, N.Y.: Lexis Nexis/Anderson Pub.
Andrews, D. A., & Zinger, I. (1990). Does Correctional Treatment Work? A Clinically Relevant and Psychologically Informed Meta-analysis. Criminology, 24(13), 23-90.
Balon, R. (2009). Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Psychotherapy and Psychosocial Interventions in the Medically Ill. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 56(4), 78-102.
Izzo, R.L., & Ross, R. R. (1990). Meta-Analysis of Rehabilitation Programs for Juvenile DelinquentsA Brief Report. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 17(2), 134-168.
Miltenberger, R. G. (1997). Behavior modification: Principles and procedures. Pacific Grove: Brooks/Cole Pub. Co.
Pearson, F. S., Lipton, D. S., Cleland, C. M., & Yee, D. S. (2002). The Effects of Behavioral/Cognitive-Behavioral Programs on Recidivism. Crime & Delinquency,3(12), 456-521.
Wolfred, T. R. (1977). Evaluation of a community-based behavior modification program for prevention of delinquency: The failure of success. Community Mental Health Journal,45(12), 21-34.

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