Who tells the truth? Former inmates' self-reported arrests vs. official records

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Purpose: Self-reports are integral to the understanding of a variety of behavioral phenomena, with arrest history being no exception. The current study investigated how accurate self-reports of arrest are when compared to official arrest records, and we also assessed several new predictors of self-report accuracy. Methods: In a sample of 339 former jail inmates, we examined agreement between self-reported arrests and official records. We also examined whether self-reported arrest accuracy was associated with substance use frequency and dependence, impression management, psychopathy, paranoia, criminal thinking, intelligence, and interview type (i.e., on time vs. delayed). Results: Most (80%) participants accurately reported whether or not they had been arrested in the year following release from jail. Only one of 25 variables significantly predicted self-report accuracy: criminal thinking. Participants who scored low on criminal thinking were more likely than those who scored high on criminal thinking to under-report arrests. Discrepancies between self-reports and official records of arrests were unrelated to substance use frequency and dependence, impression management, paranoia, and intelligence. Conclusions: Results strongly support the validity of self-reported arrest data.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Daylor, JM; Blalock, DV; Davis, T; Klauberg, WX; Stuewig, J; Tangney, JP

Published Date

  • July 1, 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 63 /

Start / End Page

  • 49 - 57

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0047-2352

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2019.04.002

Citation Source

  • Scopus