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Gender, victim status and attribution : implications for the management of aggression in a high secure hospital

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posted on 15.12.2014, 10:46 by Julie Ann. Clarke
The current study aims to explore the explanations and favoured management approaches of High Secure Hospital staff, concerning aggressive behaviour by patients. It sets out to establish whether staff's attributions and preferred approaches vary according to whether the patient is male or female, and the target a member of staff or another patient. More specifically, it attempts to explore a bias often mentioned in criminological studies; that men who offend are seen as bad, whilst women are viewed as being mad. A secondary aim was to establish whether relationships between the attributions, preferred management approaches and attitudes to High Secure Hospital patients exist for staff who work in this setting.;The 118 participants in this research completed a questionnaire (consisting of a number of statements with Likert scales) in response to a hypothetical vignette. Participants were allocated to one of eight conditions on the basis of the gender of the vignette figure, the target of aggression, and the participants' gender. The sample consisted of 63 men and 55 women.;Analyses of variance indicated that staff viewed internal enduring attributions as important in explaining the behaviour, but that a wide range of explanations were considered to be important. However, there were few differences perceived according to gender of the vignette figure. Whilst the male vignette figure was not seen as bad, nor the female counterpart as more mad, there were some differences in attributions of blame, responsibility and controllability according to the staff gender, patient gender and target of aggression. Some relationships were found between attributions, management strategies and attitudes to patients.;The study provides evidence that some differences in attributions occur according to the target, patient's and staff's gender, and also as a result of the hospital context. The findings are discussed in relation to past research, the double deviance and mitigation hypotheses, and theoretical models of attributions and helping behaviour.


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Clinical Psychology

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University of Leicester

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