The current study aims to examine staff‐prisoner relationships through an exploration of interpersonal style. It was predicted that the interpersonal style of prison officers would impact on their perception of their ability to work with prisoners, dependent on the specific interpersonal style of prisoners.
Prison officers (n=128) completed a measure of interpersonal style (Check List of Interpersonal Transactions‐Revised: CLOIT‐R) and a series of eight vignettes designed to assess their perceived ability to positively engage with prisoners of differing interpersonal styles.
Prison officers with a friendly interpersonal style were found to be positive about their perceived ability to work with all prisoners whereas hostile prison officers were negative. Dominant officers were found to be positive about their perceived ability to work with submissive prisoners, whilst submissive officers were not positive in their judgments about working with dominant prisoners.
The results are discussed with regards to issues of role assignment within forensic settings and the application of interpersonal theory. The study highlights the need to examine a range of factors in order to understand the interpersonal relationships experienced between staff and prisoners. Future research could examine relationships between the attitudes that prison officers hold towards prisoners and rehabilitation and interpersonal behaviours.
The findings are considered in terms of the prison officer role and the provision of support and training to prison officers.
This paper is original in its application of interpersonal theory to staff‐prisoner relationships.
Gredecki, N. and Ireland, J. (2012), "Applications of interpersonal circumplex and complementarity theory to staff‐prisoner relationships", The British Journal of Forensic Practice, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 180-191. https://doi.org/10.1108/14636641211254905Download as .RIS
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