Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology



First Advisor

Sara Haden

Committee Chair and Members

Sara Haden, Chair

Nicholas Papouchis

Joan Duncan


Aggresssion, Alternative-to-incarceration, Hostile attribution bias, Severe mental illness, Substance use, Trauma


Previous literature has supported the significant impacts of trauma on aggression as well as the exploration of various other complex, multidimensional factors that maintain the mechanisms of this relationship. This study aimed to further understand the relationship between trauma experiences and aggression, while also examining the possible strengthening impact of hostile attribution bias (HAB), substance use, and severe mental illness (SMI) on this cycle of violence among justice-involved individuals (JII). This study seeks to add to the limited literature of HAB within adult, forensic populations. A total of 82 participants were recruited from an alternative-to-incarceration program and completed a survey that included HAB, aggression, and social desirability measures. The researcher examined archival data in order to incorporate information regarding trauma experiences, substance use histories, and SMI diagnoses. Variable were incorporated into a moderated parallel mediation model. A positive direct effect of trauma on aggression, was supported in participants without an SMI diagnosis. Participants with an SMI diagnosis showed a strong positive effect of HAB on aggression. The anticipated moderated parallel mediation, such that the effect of trauma on aggression would significantly increase when HAB and substance use was incorporated among SMI Yes participants, was not supported as expected. These results highlight the cohesive nature of violence risk assessment as well as various factors to consider in therapeutic intervention when treating this population. The implications of the findings are discussed in greater detail.

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Psychology Commons