Name:  Shreena Thapa

Area of Study: Forensic

In what program are you currently enrolled? PhD

What year of the program are you currently in? 4

Citation in APA format

Thapa, S., Brown, S. L., & Skilling, T. A. (2020). The Relationship Between Self-Esteem, Gender, Criminal Attitudes, and Recidivism in a Youth Justice Sample. Criminal Justice and Behavior.

Plain language abstract:

The Risk-Need-Responsivity (RNR) model deems criminal attitudes a high-priority criminogenic target for both genders while self-esteem is considered noncriminogenic, hence low priority. In contrast, self-esteem is afforded greater priority among gender-responsive researchers, while the construct of criminal attitudes is afforded lesser priority. We examined whether self-esteem and gender moderated the relationship between criminal attitudes and recidivism among 300 justice-involved youth (200 males, 100 females). Contrary to the hypothesis, high self-esteem (≥72.15th percentile) magnified the relationship between criminal attitudes (Pride in Delinquency Scale) and recidivism in females only; self-esteem levels evidenced no impact on the relationship between criminal attitudes and recidivism among males. Results suggest that prioritizing self-esteem as a treatment target among justice-involved female youth without simultaneously considering whether or not pride in criminal conduct is also present may inadvertently increase reoffending. Implications for exploring whether high self-esteem may in reality represent falsely inflated self-esteem are discussed.

How did the idea for this research come about? 

This research was based on my MA thesis examining criminal attitudes, self-esteem, childhood adversity, physical aggression, and recidivism in a justice involved youth sample. My MA results indicated that gender and self-esteem moderate the relationship between criminal attitudes and physical aggression and recidivism differently for males and females. Based on the findings from my M.A, I further examined how different assessments of criminal attitudes interact with self-esteem in predicting recidivism for justice involved boys and girls.

How did you collect the data for this project? 

I used archival data.

Was the journal you published in the first journal you submitted this paper to?


Why did you choose this journal?

Criminal Justice and Behavior is one of the leading journals in forensic psychology and also had a special issue devoted to the late Dr. Steven Wormith. His work on attitudes and self-esteem in the 80’s very much influenced my study. Thus, Criminal Justice and Behavior was best suited for my research.

How many other journals did you submit this paper to before it landed in the journal that eventually published your work?


What was your revision experience?

The revision experience was a good learning experience for me. I received feedback to strengthen my paper and the reviewers were generally kind and provided constructive feedback. I also realized that reviewers do tend to put forward their biases especially on the topic of gender differences. Statistical analyses that reviewers are not familiar with are also questioned and results derived from those analyses are seen with skepticism. However, my supervisor Dr. Shelley Brown was very helpful and supportive throughout this process and guided me to respond and maintain my position where necessary.

How many rounds of revision did you experience?


Did you need to collect new data to satisfy a reviewer?


How long did it take from first submission to acceptance? 

11 months

Was this paper conducted as part of your MA thesis?


Was this paper conducted as part of your PhD dissertation?


Was this research conducted with your supervisor?

Yes, with Dr. Shelley Brown

Was this research conducted with fellow graduate students in our program? 


Was this research conducted with researchers external to Carleton?

Yes, with Dr. Tracey Skilling

You can access the article here.