-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Nov. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Most people who join gangs
have an "extreme antisocial personality," according to a new study
that challenges previous research suggesting gang membership is
driven by fear, intimidation or peer pressure.
People with an antisocial personality are impulsive, lack
self-discipline and self-control, and aren't concerned about other
people's problems. Because of this, they may be excluded from
groups at school or work.
In this study, British researchers gave personality tests to 152
adult male prisoners and asked them about impulsive behavior and
their feelings of commitment to different social groups. Those with
an antisocial personality felt little connection to peers who might
be a good influence and instead preferred more antisocial peers
with similar values and attitudes.
The most antisocial prisoners were involved in more crimes and
were more likely to be in a gang.
The findings suggest that people join and remain in gangs
because they make friends with other members and feel a strong
connection to the group, the University of Leicester researchers
said in a journal news release.
In a gang, impulsive and antisocial behavior is praised and
respected, instead of being criticized as harmful and disruptive.
This further increases the gang member's feeling of belonging.
The study results, recently published in the journal
Personality and Individual Differences, suggest that efforts to prevent people from joining gangs should focus on antisocial feelings, the researchers said.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about
antisocial personality disorder.
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