Autonomy as a Source of Pro‐social Influence Among Incarcerated Adolescents

Frank P. Martin, D. Wayne Osgood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Previous research has found that greater autonomy for incarcerated adolescents is associated with pro‐social outcomes. The present paper interprets the pro‐social impact of autonomy in terms of three established lines of research in social psychology: leadership style, coercive social control, and reactance. In addition, it attempts to clarify whether autonomy in this setting has a direct influence on residents' values or an indirect influence resulting from an increase in residents' acceptance of the treatment goals. Data were collected by questionnaires administered to 434 residents and 156 staff members at four residential institutions for adjudicated adolescents. The data were analyzed using a structural equation model with unobserved variables (LISREL). A model positing both direct and indirect influences of autonomy fit the data very well. Autonomy contributed to pro‐social values both through greater acceptance of the treatment goals as well as through a direct influence on values.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-107
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Social Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1987

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


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