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    • Abstract: 10.1177/0093854803262508CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND BEHAVIORWalters, Geyer / CRIMINAL THINKING IN WHITE-COLLAR OFFENDERSARTICLECRIMINAL THINKINGAND IDENTITY IN MALEWHITE-COLLAR OFFENDERSGLENN D. WALTERSMATTHEW D. GEYER

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10.1177/0093854803262508
CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND BEHAVIOR
Walters, Geyer / CRIMINAL THINKING IN WHITE-COLLAR OFFENDERS
ARTICLE
CRIMINAL THINKING
AND IDENTITY IN MALE
WHITE-COLLAR OFFENDERS
GLENN D. WALTERS
MATTHEW D. GEYER
Federal Correctional Institution, Schuylkill, Pennsylvania
Thirty-four male white-collar offenders without a prior history of non-white-collar crime, 23
male white-collar offenders with at least one prior arrest for a non-white-collar crime, and 66
male non-white-collar offenders housed in a minimum security federal prison camp completed
the Psychological Inventory of Criminal Thinking Styles and Social Identity as a Criminal scale
and were rated on the Lifestyle Criminality Screening Form–Revised. Significant group differ-
ences were noted on the Psychological Inventory of Criminal Thinking Styles Self-Assertion/
Deception scale, Social Identity as a Criminal Centrality subscale, Social Identity as a Criminal
In-Group Ties subscale, and Lifestyle Criminality Screening Form–Revised, which showed that
white-collar offenders with no prior history of non-white-collar crime registered lower levels of
criminal thinking, criminal identification, and deviance than white-collar offenders previously
arrested for non-white-collar crimes.
Keywords: PICTS; social identity; white-collar crime
W hen Edwin Sutherland coined the term white-collar crime in
1939, one of his chief goals was to expose the inadequacies of
traditional theories of crime causation (e.g., biological and sociologi-
AUTHORS’ NOTE: We would like to thank James E. Cameron for supplying the
items and scoring criteria for his Social Identification Scale. The assertions and opin-
ions contained herein are the private views of the authors and should not be construed
as official or as reflecting the views of the Federal Bureau of Prisons or U.S. Depart-
ment of Justice. Correspondence concerning this article, including requests for cop-
ies of the PICTS, should be directed to Glenn D. Walters, Psychology Services, FCI-
Schuylkill, P.O. Box 700, Minersville, PA 17954-0700; e-mail: [email protected]
CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND BEHAVIOR, Vol. 31 No. 3, June 2004 263-281
DOI: 10.1177/0093854803262508
© 2004 American Association for Correctional Psychology
263
264 CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND BEHAVIOR
cal determinism) in modeling the antisocial behavior of the well to do.
Sutherland (1949/1983) would later define white-collar crime as
“crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status
in the course of his occupation” (p. 7). Although some scholars took
issue with Sutherland’s definition (Coleman, 1987; Shapiro, 1990),
choosing to define white-collar crime according to the offense rather
than the offender, there is no disputing the fact that white-collar crime,
however defined, threatens the social fabric of modern-day society, as
evidenced by the recent Enron and WorldCom scandals. Surveys indi-
cate that businesses in the United States incur losses of U.S.$1 billion
per annum from employee theft of pens, pencils, paper clips, postage,
and stationary (Wells, 1994), and health care fraud, abuse, and waste
are estimated to run as high as $100 billion a year, approximately 10%
of the total U.S. health care budget (Andrews, 1994). Computer crime,
embezzlement, corporate crime, and fraud may have an even more
devastating effect on society. Whereas the cost of white-collar crime is
undeniable, debate continues to rage over whether white-collar
offending should be considered distinct from other categories of
criminal conduct.
Most scholars conceptualize white-collar and non-white-collar
crime as discrete clinical and theoretical entities. Adopting a contrary
view, Gottfredson and Hirschi (1990) posited that the differences
between white-collar and non-white-collar crime are more apparent
than real based on the assertion that all crime is a product of low self-
control. In their general or low self-control theory of white-collar
crime, Gottfredson and Hirschi argued that white-collar offenders are
just as criminally versatile and deviant as their non-white-collar coun-
terparts. What this means is that white-collar offenders do not special-
ize in white-collar crime any more than robbers confine themselves
to robbery or thieves restrict themselves to theft. In addition, white-
collar and non-white-collar offenders are equally likely to own a prior
record of criminality and poor social adjustment. There is research
that corroborates aspects of Hirschi and Gottfredson’s general theory
of white-collar crime. Nagin and Paternoster (1994), for instance,
uncovered a significant relationship between white-collar crime and
low self-control. Weisburd, Waring, and Chayet (1995), in another
study that supports Gottfredson and Hirschi’s position, determined
Walters, Geyer / CRIMINAL THINKING IN WHITE-COLLAR OFFENDERS 265
that imprisonment may be no more effective in deterring white-collar
crime than it is in deterring other forms of criminality.
Weisburd, Chayet, and Waring (1990) tested Gottfredson and
Hirschi’s theory of white-collar crime in a large group of federal
offenders divided into eight categories of white-collar crime (antitrust
offenses, securities and exchange fraud, postal and wire fraud, false
claims and statements, credit and lending institution fraud, bank
embezzlement, IRS fraud, and bribery). With the exception of prison-
ers serving time for antitrust violations, many inmates in this sample
showed evidence of prior criminality. Of these prisoners, 43% had
been arrested at least once before, 34% had prior convictions, and
15% had been previously incarcerated. Even after paring their sample
down to white-collar offenders who held either elite positions or were
in possession of significant assets at the time they committed their
offenses, Weisburd et al. (1990) still observed lifetime arrest and con-
viction rates of 25% and 10%, respectively. Despite a moderate degree
of versatility and deviance, participants in this sample evidenced an
older age of onset and lower frequency of offending than is generally
observed in non-white-collar offenders. When Weisburd et al. (1990)
restricted their sample to the most chronic white-collar offenders
(three or more prior arrests), they nevertheless discovered that the
career pattern of crime was hard to distinguish from that of the average
street criminal.
Benson and Moore (1992) subjected Gottfredson and Hirschi’s
(1990) versatility and deviance hypotheses to empirical scrutiny by
comparing federal white-collar offenders with persons convicted of
narcotics violations, bank robbery, and postal forgery. The results
revealed that white-collar offenders were 4 times more likely to have
been previously arrested for a white-collar crime than non-white-col-
lar criminals, thereby contradicting Gottfredson and Hirschi’s versa-
tility hypothesis in the sense that white-collar offenders maintained a
higher level of specialization than non-white-collar offenders. Fur-
thermore, the non-white-collar offenders were significantly more
deviant than the white-collar offenders on indices of past problem
drinking, drug use, poor grades, and social maladjustment. By the
same token, a subsample of high-rate white-collar criminals, each
with four or more prior arrests, displayed a level of versatility and
266 CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND BEHAVIOR
prior deviance that approached the level attained by non-white-collar
offenders. In line with findings from an earlier study by Wheeler,
Weisburd, Waring, and Bode (1988), Benson and Moore uncovered
two separate pathways to white-collar crime, one marked by low self-
control and prior non-white-collar offending and the other
characterized by high self-control and no prior non-white-collar
offending.
As the studies reviewed in this section suggest, there are at least two
groups of white-collar offender. One group may be indiscernible from
the common street criminal, a finding congruent with Gottfredson and
Hirschi’s (1990) low self-control theory of white-collar crime. The
other group, by comparison, is significantly more specialized and less
deviant than the first. To the extent that white-collar and non-white-
collar crimes are divergent, it would make sense that these offenses are
perpetrated by individuals who differ in their thoughts, identifica-
tions, and actions toward crime, a possibility that may reflect diver-
gent programming needs for white-collar offenders with and without
a history of non-white-collar crime. Walters (2003) utilized the Psy-
chological Inventory of Criminal Thinking Styles (PICTS) (Walters,
1995) and Social Identity as a Criminal (SIC) (Cameron, 1999) Scale
to discriminate between medium security inmates with and without a
prior history of incarceration. Two of the four PICTS factor scales,
Interpersonal Hostility and Self-Assertion/Deception, and one of
three SIC subscales, Centrality, demonstrated significant time (initial
assessment, 6-month follow-up) by group (novice, experienced)
interactions, whereby scores on these scales rose in novice inmates
after 6 months but remained stable in experienced inmates.
The purpose of the current study was to ascertain whether prisoners
who have only ever been arrested for a white-collar crime deviated
from white-collar offenders previously arrested for a non-white-collar
crime and inmates confined for non-white collar offenses on measures
of criminal thinking, criminal identity, and criminal lifestyle involve-
ment. Research assessing Gottfredson and Hirschi’s (1990) theory of
white-collar crime denotes that white-collar crime occurs along two
distinct and separate lines, one of which (white-collar offenders with a
prior history of non-white-collar crime) may be largely indistinguish-
able from non-white-collar crime and the other of which (white-collar
offenders without a prior history of non-white-collar crime) is less
Walters, Geyer / CRIMINAL THINKING IN WHITE-COLLAR OFFENDERS 267
versatile and deviant than the pattern traditionally found in non-white-
collar offenders. Employing an offense-based definition of white-
collar crime it was predicted that (a) white-collar offenders with no
history of prior non-white-collar crime would receive significantly
lower scores than white-collar offenders with a history of non-white-
collar crime and non-white-collar offenders on measures of criminal
thinking (PICTS factor scores), criminal identity (Self-Identity as a
Criminal), and criminal lifestyle involvement (Lifestyle Criminality
Screening Form [LCSF]) and (b) white-collar offenders with a history
of prior non-white-collar crime and non-white-collar offenders would
perform similarly on these criminal thinking, identity, and lifestyle
measures.
METHOD
PARTICIPANTS
In a population of 327 male inmates assigned to a minimum secu-
rity federal prison camp over a 3-month period, 86 (26.3%) were serv-
ing time for a white-collar offense.1 Comparing inmates serving time
for white-collar and non-white-collar crimes, it was noted that the
white-collar offenders (M = 47.20, SD = 10.78) were significantly
older, t(325) = 4.28, p < .001, than non-white collar offenders (M =
41.41, SD = 10.79) and significantly more likely to be White, χ2(3, N=
327) = 23.56, p < .001, than the non-white-collar offenders. Origi-
nally, it was hoped that it might be possible to match white-collar and
non-white-collar participants on age and ethnic status; however, it
soon became apparent that this was an impractical approach in that
many of the white-collar offenders had no reasonable matches. There-
fore, an alternate strategy was pursued in which all inmates 29 years of
age and older (the lower limit of the age range in the white-collar
group) serving time for nonviolent, non-white-collar offenses were
approached about participating in the current study.
Over a 4-month period, 93 male inmates serving time for white-
collar offenses were invited to participate in the current study.2 Of
these individuals, 57 agreed to participate, 34 declined, and 2 were
unable to complete the survey because of reading/language difficul-
268 CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND BEHAVIOR
ties. There were no significant age, sentence, ethnicity, or offense dis-
crepancies (p > .10) between the 57 participating white-collar offend-
ers and 34 white-collar offenders who were able but unwilling to
participate in the current study. There were also no significant age,
education, sentence, race, marital status, confining offense, PICTS
factor scales, SIC subscales, or LCSF-R (LCSF-Revised) total score
differences between the 26 white-collar offenders who were first-time
offenders and 8 white-collar offenders with a prior record of white-
collar offending (p > .10; except for PICTS Interpersonal Hostility
scale, p = .06). Accordingly, these two clusters of inmates were
merged into a single group of 34 white-collar offenders with no prior
history of non-white-collar crime, in contrast to the 23 white-collar
offenders who presented with at least one prior arrest for a non-white-
collar crime.
Every minimum security male prisoner, 29 years of age and older,
incarcerated in the same facility as the white-collar offenders for a
nonviolent, non-white-collar offense, 136 in all, was approached
about participating in the current study. Of this number, 66 agreed to
participate, 59 refused to participate, and 11 could not read English
well enough to complete the survey. As was the case with the white-
collar offenders, there were no significant age, sentence, ethnic status,
or offense disparities (p > .10) between the 66 comparison partici-
pants who took part in this investigation and the 59 inmates who chose
not to participate. Overall, 123 of the 216 English-speaking male min-
imum security inmates initially approached about participating in the
current study (56.9%) eventually completed the survey. Although a
higher percentage of white-collar inmates than non-white-collar
offenders participated in the current investigation (62.6% vs. 52.8%),
the proportions were not significantly different, χ2(1, N = 123) = 2.09,
p > .10.
MEASURES
PICTS. All inmates participating in the current study were admin-
istered Version 4.0 of the PICTS (Walters, 1995, 2003). The PICTS is
an 80-item self-report measure composed of (a) two validity scales
including Confusion–revised (Cf-r) and Defensiveness–revised (Df-
r); (b) eight thinking-style scales including Mollification (Mo), Cutoff
Walters, Geyer / CRIMINAL THINKING IN WHITE-COLLAR OFFENDERS 269
(Co), Entitlement (En), Power Orientation (Po), Sentimentality (Sn),
Superoptimism (So), Cognitive Indolence (Ci), and Discontinuity
(Ds); (c) two content scales including Current Criminal Thinking
(CUR) and Historical Criminal Thinking (HIS), and (d) four factor
scales including Problem Avoidance (PRB), Interpersonal Hostility
(HOS), Self-Assertion/Deception (AST), and Denial of Harm
(DNH).3 The validity and thinking-style scales contain 8 items each,
the factor scales 10 items each, the CUR scale 13 items, and the HIS
scale 12 items. There are four options per item with strongly agree = 4,
agree = 3, uncertain = 2, and disagree = 1 with the exception of Df-r,
which was scored in the reverse direction (i.e., strongly agree = 1 and
disagree = 4). The test-retest reliability and empirical/predictive
validity of the PICTS are well documented (Walters, 2002).
SIC. The 12 items that constitute the Cameron (1999) social iden-
tity scale were modified to assess participants’ social identity as a
criminal.4. Each item was scored on a 6-point scale with attitudinal
anchors at each point: 1 = strongly disagree, 2 = moderately disagree,
3 = slightly disagree, 4 = slightly agree, 5 = moderately agree, 6 =
strongly agree. One half the items on Cameron’s social identity scale
are scored in a positive direction, whereas the other one half are scored
in a reverse direction (i.e., strongly disagree = 6 and strongly agree =
1). Cameron recommended that the 12 social identity items be
grouped into three factor subscales. The In-Group Ties subscale mea-
sures a respondent’s level of personal bonding with in-group members
(i.e., other criminals) and manifest internal consistency, as measured
by Cronbach’s alpha coefficient (α), on the order of .76. The Central-
ity subscale (α = .78), on the other hand, is designed to assess the psy-
chological salience of a respondent’s group identity. The final
subscale, In-Group Affect (α = .78), is believed to reflect a respon-
dent’s felt attitude toward in-group members. These three factor
subscales were scored for the purposes of the current investigation
where they earned internal consistency (alpha) coefficients of .50 (In-
Group Ties), .48 (Centrality), and .58 (In-Group Affect).
LCSF-R. The LCSF-R (Walters, 1998; Walters, White, & Denney,
1991) is a 14-item chart audit form designed to assess the four interac-
tive styles associated with lifestyle patterns of criminal conduct (irre-
270 CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND BEHAVIOR
sponsibility, self-indulgence, interpersonal intrusiveness, and social
rule breaking) that is scored from information found in an inmate’s
presentence investigation (PSI) report. The Irresponsibility subscale
lists items for dropping out of school, failure to provide financial sup-
port for a biological child, length of prior employment, and episodes
of quitting or being terminated from a job. A history of substance mis-
use, divorce, and the presence of tattoos are assessed on the Self-
Indulgence subscale. The Interpersonal Intrusiveness subscale asks
whether the instant or confining offense was intrusive, a weapon was
used in the commission of that offense, a history of intrusive crime
exists, and the participant ever physically abused a significant other.
Finally, the Social Rule Breaking subscale delimits the number of
prior offenses, the age at first arrest, and the existence of any school
disciplinary problems. The total LCSF-R score may range between 0
and 22, while removing the arrest-related items (arrests for intrusive
crime, total number of arrests, age at first arrest) from the LCSF-R
results in a scale with scores ranging from 0 to 16. Twenty randomly
selected participants were independently rated on the LCSF-R by the
second author, the outcome of which yielded an interrater reliability
coefficient (r) of .91.
PROCEDURE
The files of all inmates in admissions status at a federal minimum
security prison camp located in the northeastern United States were
reviewed over a 4-month period. Inmates serving time for the follow-
ing white-collar crimes—antitrust violations, securities and exchange
fraud, postal and wire fraud, health care fraud, IRS fraud, credit and
lending institution fraud, bank embezzlement, counterfeiting, false
claims and statements, and bribery—were approached about partici-
pating in the current study. In a group of 93 inmates serving sentences
for white-collar crime, 57 were recruited into the study. A group of
136 non-white-collar offenders, 29 years of age and older, were also
approached about enrolling in the study, from which a sample of 66
control participants was assembled. Voluntary consent to participate
in the current study was obtained from all participants based on the
understanding that the data would be kept confidential and that there
would be no negative consequences should they choose not to partici-
Walters, Geyer / CRIMINAL THINKING IN WHITE-COLLAR OFFENDERS 271
pate. When voluntary consent was secured, participants completed
the PICTS (Version 4.0) and SIC scale in groups of 2 to 10 inmates.
The first author then conducted a file review, completed the LCSF-R,
and gathered pertinent demographic data (number of prior white-collar
offenses and number of prior non-white-collar offenses) on each par-
ticipant. Basic demographic information on the 34 male white-collar
offenders with no history of non-white collar crime, 23 male white-
collar offenders with at least one prior arrest for a non-white-collar
crime, and 66 male non-white-collar offenders appears in Table 1.
RESULTS
As outlined in Table 1, white-collar offenders without a history of
non-white-collar crime (WC-only) were significantly older, more
highly educated, and serving shorter sentences than the non-white-
collar control group (NWC). The WC-only group also possessed sig-
nificantly more years of education than white-collar offenders with
one or more prior arrests for a non-white-collar crime (WC-prior).
Significant ethnic status differences were noted between all three
groups, χ2(4, N = 123) = 14.53, p < .01, however, the groups were
roughly equivalent on marital status, χ2(6, N = 123) = 10.12, p > .10. A
disparity between the groups on confining offense was anticipated
given that this was the criterion used to assign participants to condi-
tions, though a comparison of the two white-collar groups revealed
that significantly more WC-only inmates were serving sentences for
postal and wire fraud, whereas a greater portion of the WC-prior
group was incarcerated for credit and lending institution fraud, χ2(8,
N = 57) = 17.88, p < .05. Correlations between the five demographic
variables (age, education, sentence, ethnic status, marital status) and
eight dependent measures (Problem Avoidance, Interpersonal Hostil-
ity, Self-Assertion/Deception, Denial of Harm, In-Group Ties, Cen-
trality, In-Group Affect, and LCSF-R) were significant in several
cases (see Table 2).
Significant group differences were observed on four of the eight
dependent measures (see Table 3). As predicted, WC-only inmates
attained significantly lower scores on the PICTS Self-Assertion/
Deception scale and SIC In-Group Ties subscale relative to partici-
272 CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND BEHAVIOR
TABLE 1: Demographic Characteristics of the Three Groups
Group
Variable WC-Only WC-Prior NWC F (2, 120)
Participants (n) 34 23 66
Age (years)
a b b
M 50.06 43.61 41.59 8.91***
SD 10.60 9.40 9.01
Education (years)
a b c
M 16.03 14.09 12.39 27.71***
SD 3.10 2.66 1.65
Ethnic status (%)
White 70.6 73.9 39.4
African American 17.6 21.7 48.5
Other 11.7 4.3 12.1
Marital status (%)
Single 17.6 26.1 31.8
Married 50.0 43.5 45.5
Divorced 23.5 30.4 22.7
Widowed 8.8 0.0 0.0
Instant offense (%)
Theft 0.0 0.0 9.1
Drug offenses 0.0 0.0 78.8
Firearms violations 0.0 0.0 7.6
Other non-white-collar 0.0 0.0 4.5
Antitrust violations 2.9 0.0 0.0
Securities/exchange fraud 8.8 4.3 0.0
Postal and wire fraud 41.2 13.0 0.0
Health care fraud 8.8 0.0 0.0
IRS fraud 14.7 21.7 0.0
Credit/lending institution
fraud 5.9 34.8 0.0
Bank embezzlement 2.9 8.7 0.0
Counterfeiting 0.0 8.7 0.0
False claims/statements 14.7 8.7 0.0
Sentence (months)
a a b
M 40.94 30.17 95.44 25.93***
SD 34.46 17.34 55.87
Note. WC-only = white-collar offender with no prior history of non-white-collar crime;
WC-prior = white-collar offender with at least one prior arrest for a non-white-collar
crime; NWC = non-white collar, non–violent non-white-collar offender. Superscripts (fol-
lowing the mean of each group) represent the results of the Duncan Multiple Range
Test. Means with different subscripts differ significantly at p < .05.
***p < .001.
Walters, Geyer / CRIMINAL THINKING IN WHITE-COLLAR OFFENDERS 273
TABLE 2: Intercorrelations Between the Five Demographic Variables and Eight
Dependent Measures for the Entire Sample (N = 123)
Age Education Sentence Ethnic Marital
Problem avoidance –.13 –.16 –.01 –.05 –.10
Interpersonal hostility –.07 –.18* .02 .16 –.14
Self-assertion/deception –.27** –.17 .09 .03 .03
Denial of harm –.22* –.13 .07 .15 –.08
In-group ties –.13 –.14 .00 .10 –.24**
Centrality –.06 .06 –.15 –.06 –.12
In-group affect –.00 –.14 .07 .03 –.04
LCSF-R –.30** –.48*** .41*** .14 –.04
Note. LCSF-R = Lifestyle Criminality Screening Form–Revised. Ethnic status was
dichotomized as White (1) versus Non-White (2) and marital status was dichotomized
as single (1) versus nonsingle (2).
*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.
pants in the WC-prior and NWC conditions, whereas WC-prior and
NWC inmates failed to differ on these two measures. Second, WC-
prior inmates scored significantly higher than WC-only and NWC
inmates on the SIC Centrality subscale. Finally, all three groups var-
ied on the LCSF-R, with NWC participants scoring significantly
higher than WC-only and WC-prior inmates and WC-prior partici-
pants scoring significantly higher than WC-only inmates on this mea-
sure. Because the majority of WC-only participants had no record of
prior arrest, the three arrest items (prior arrests for intrusive crime,
total number of prior arrests, and age at first arrest) were removed
from the LCSF-R, and the scale reanalyzed. The findings, as outlined
in Table 3, were comparable to the results obtained with the full
LCSF-R. Furthermore, when the number of prior arrests was made a
covariate in an ANCOVA of the significant dependent measures, out-
comes showed that the PICTS Self-Assertion/Deception scale
became nonsignificant, F(2, 119) = 1.08, p > .10, whereas the In-
Group Ties subscale, F(2, 119) = 7.58, p < .01, Centrality subscale,
F(2, 119) = 3.98, p < .05, and LCSF-R, F(2, 119) = 18.67, p < .001,
remained significant.
Owing to the fact that the WC-only, WC-prior, and NWC condi-
tions deviated on several key demographic dimensions, these vari-
ables were entered as covariates in a series of analyses of covariance
of the four significant dependent measures. After controlling for age,
274 CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND BEHAVIOR
TABLE 3: Group Performance on the Psychological Inventory of Criminal Think-
ing Styles (PICTS), Social Identity as a Criminal (SIC) scale, and Life-
style Criminality Screening Form–Revised (LCSF-R)
Group
Variable WC-Only WC-Prior NWC F(2, 120)
PICTS factor scales
Problem avoidance
M 14.59 18.26 16.30 2.65
SD 5.72 7.37 5.49
Interpersonal hostility
M 10.97 11.57 11.58 0.88
SD 1.77 2.43 2.41
Self-assertion/deception
a b b
M 12.65 16.09 15.30 4.32*
SD 4.06 7.22 4.38
Denial of harm
M 21.79 23.96 23.44 1.65
SD 4.60 5.83 4.89
Social identity as a criminal subscales
In-group ties
a b b
M 7.09 9.48 9.61 5.58**
SD 2.49 3.58 4.21
Centrality
a b a
M 11.24 13.43 10.59 3.92
SD 4.78 3.67 4.05
In-group affect
M 6.06 6.52 7.11 0.87
SD 3.34 4.81 3.70
LCSF-R total score
a b c
M 1.12 4.22 5.76 37.09***
SD 1.32 2.61 2.97
LCSF-R score (w/o
arrest items)
a b c
M 1.12 2.74 3.88 27.79***
SD 1.32 1.63 1.98
Note. WC-only = white-collar offender with no prior history of non-white-collar crime;
WC-prior = white-collar offender with at least one prior arrest for a non-white-collar
crime; and NWC = non-white collar, non–violent non-white-collar offender. Superscripts
(following the mean of each group) represent the results of the Duncan Multiple Range
Test. Means with different subscripts differ significantly at p < .05.
*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.
education, sentence length, ethnic status, and marital status, initial
group differences on the PICTS Self-Assertion/Deception scale, F(2,
115) = 1.70, p > .10, and SIC Centrality subscale, F(2, 115) = 2.27,
Walters, Geyer / CRIMINAL THINKING IN WHITE-COLLAR OFFENDERS 275
p > .10, vanished whereas significant group contrasts on the SIC In-
Group Ties subscale, F(2, 115) = 4.81, p < .05, and LCSF-R, F(2,
115) = 12.03, p < .001, persisted. Using the PICTS validity scales as
indices of test-taking set, it was noted that the three groups failed to
diverge on the Confusion (Cf-r) scale, F(2, 120) = .65, p > .10, how-
ever, participants in the WC-only group recorded significantly higher
PICTS Defensiveness (Df-r) scale scores than participants in the other
two conditions, F(2, 120) = 8.60, p < .001. Controlling for Df-r scores
with an ANCOVA design, it was ascertained that the In-Group Ties,
F(2, 119) = 5.12, p < .01, Centrality, F(2, 199) = 3.59, p < .05, and
LCSF-R, F(2, 119) = 30.64, p < .001, effects retained significance,
whereas the Self-Assertion/Deception effect, F(2, 119) = .36, p > .10,
disappeared.
Besides testing the significance of group deviations on individual
dependent measures, the current study also sought to determine
whether a multivariate composite of the four PICTS factor scales,
three SIC subscales, and LCSF-R significantly differentiated between
inmates in the WC-only, WC-prior, and NWC conditions. A
MANOVA of the eight dependent measures (Problem Avoidance,
Interpersonal Hostility, Self-Assertion/Deception, Denial of Harm,
In-Group Ties, Centrality, In-Group Affect, and LCSF-R) produced a
statistically significant group effect, Pillai’s Trace: approximate F(16,
228) = 5.24, p < .001. A MANCOVA was also computed, with age,
education, sentence, ethnic status (White vs. Non-White), marital sta-
tus (single vs. nonsingle), and Df-r serving as covariates, the results of
which revealed a reduced but nonetheless statistically significant dif-
ference between the three groups, Pillai’s Trace: approximate F(16,
216) = 2.08, p < .05. The first function of a multiple discriminant func-
tion analysis revealed a significant difference between the three
groups on all eight dependent measures, χ2(16, N = 123) = 79.74,
p < .001, with 65% of the total sample being correctly identified
(88.2% of WC-only, 47.8% of WC-prior, 59.1% of NWC).
DISCUSSION
Congruent with past research (Weisburd et al., 1990, 1995) the cur-
rent study identified two general categories of white-collar offender: a
276 CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND BEHAVIOR
larger group of white-collar specialists who had never before been
arrested for a non-white-collar crime and a smaller group of versatile
white-collar offenders who had been arrested at least once for a non-
white collar crime. When these two groups were compared to a con-
trol group of inmates convicted of nonviolent, non-white-collar
crimes on measures of criminal thinking, identity, and lifestyle it was
discovered that the white-collar offenders with no history of non-
white-collar crime (WC-only) were less inclined to endorse criminal
thoughts, identify with other criminals, and exhibit signs of a criminal
lifestyle than white-collar offenders with prior arrests for non-white-
collar crime (WC-prior) and non-white-collar offenders (NWC). The
WC-prior and NWC groups, as predicted, failed to differ from each
other on measures of criminal thinking and identity, except for the
Centrality subscale of the SIC, where WC-prior inmates scored sig-
nificantly higher than WC-only and NWC participants. On the other
hand, NWC inmates registered significantly higher scores on a mea-
sure of criminal lifestyle (LCSF-R) than participants in the WC-prior
group. As hypothesized, white-collar offenders with a history of prior
non-white-collar crime were largely indistinguishable from NWC
offenders but featured stronger criminal thinking, identity, and gen-
eral deviance than white-collar offenders with no history of non-white-
collar crime. Of course, the results may have differed had white-collar
crime been defined, à la Sutherland, by the offender rather than by the
offense.
Demographic variables such as age, education, sentence length,
and ethnic status discriminated between the three groups of inmates,
and except for ethnic status, correlated with at least one of the eight
dependent measures included in this investigation. The ANOVA results
were therefore supplemented by a series of ANCOVAs in which the
five demographic measures served as covariates. The outcome of
these analyses disclosed that group differences on the SIC In-Group
Ties, LCSF-R total score, and the LCSF-R persisted even after con-
trolling for the five demographic variables. Self-Assertion/Deception,
the one PICTS scale demonstrating a significant ANOVA effect, by
comparison, was no longer significant after controlling for initial
demographic discrepancies between the groups. It may well be that
the significant group contrast on the Self-Assertion/Deception scale is
a consequence of the WC-only inmates being older than participants
Walters, Geyer / CRIMINAL THINKING IN WHITE-COLLAR OFFENDERS 277
in the WC-prior and NWC conditions, coupled with the fact that age
was negatively correlated with Self-Assertion/Deception. Group vari-
ations on the SIC In-Groups Ties subscale and LCSF-R (with and
without the arrest items) appeared to be more robust because they dis-
played minimal change after age, education, sentence, ethnic status,
marital status, and Df-r scale scores were accounted for. Differences
on the SIC Centrality subscale remained stable after controlling for
initial group differences on the Df-r scale, however, not when the five
demographic variables were entered as covariates in an ANCOVA
design.
One could argue that the disparities in criminal thinking and iden-
tity found to exist between WC-only and WC-prior participants were
a function of the greater number of arrests attained by the WC-prior
group. After all, the WC-prior group (M = 4.43, SD = 4.44) had
accrued a substantially greater number of prior arrests than the WC-
only group (M = .24, SD = .43, t(53) = 5.50, p < .001). There are two
problems with this argument. First, there were no significant group
differences found for any of the dependent measures when first-time
offending WC-only participants were compared with WC-only
inmates who had a previous arrest for a white-collar crime. Second,
when the number of prior arrests was employed as a covariate in an
ANCOVA of the dependent measures achieving significant ANOVA
results (i.e., PICTS Self-Assertion/Deception, SIC In-Group Ties,
SIC Centrality, LCSF-R) only the PICTS Self-Assertion/Deception
scale fell to nonsignificance, as it did when the five demographic mea-
sures and PICTS Df-r scale were incorporated as covariates in an
ANCOVA of the dependent measures. These findings suggest that
there is more to the outcome of the current study than a simple con-
founding of demographic/criminal arrest variables and white-collar
status (WC-only and WC-prior), even though the power of the statisti-
cal tests was hindered by a relatively small number of participants in
the WC-prior condition and moderately low internal consistency in
the SIC subscales.
An effect that remained stable after the five demographic measures,
PICTS Defensiveness scale, and prior arrests were controlled was the
SIC In-Group Ties subscale. The robustness of the In-Group Ties
effect suggests that white-collar offenders with a history of non-
white-collar crime and persons convicted of non-white-collar crimes
278 CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND BEHAVIOR
are significantly more likely to report feeling connected and tied to a
deviant subgroup (i.e., formally labeled cr


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