The relationship of gang membership to psychological and social risk factors

SALLY-ANN ASHTON, Maria Ioannou, Laura Hammond

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A series of one-way between groups analysis of variance were conducted to investigate variance in psychological and social risk factors according to gang membership status of “current”, “prior” and “never” over a seven-year period. The sample consisted of 1047 male adolescent offenders from the Pathways to Desistance study with a mean age of 16.59 years (SD = 1.15) at the start of the study. Current gang members were found to score consistently and significantly higher than offenders who had never been gang affiliated for antisocial peer influence and behavior, exposure to violence, and psychopathy. Current gang members also scored significantly lower for resistance to peer influence, impulse control, and future outlook. Prior gang members demonstrated a significantly lower risk than current gang members but presented significantly lower levels of resistance to peer influence and impulse control than never gang members. The findings suggest that gang programs need to take account of the potential for psychological traits to impact on the effectiveness of any intervention and that prior gang members present higher risk factors for group offending and violent crime.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-52
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Gang Research
Issue numberFall
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


  • gangs
  • psychological risk factors
  • social risk factors
  • desistance
  • gang interventions


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