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date: 18 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews the state of current knowledge on cognitive transformations in the desistance process. It considers transformations in the content of cognitions: changing pro-criminal attitudes, changing meanings of and emotions surrounding criminal behavior, and the importance of motivation and hope. The chapter also considers transformations in cognitive skills that enable the person trying to desist to act upon the intentions they have formed. It argues that an integrated theory of the desistance process must include an understanding of all these cognitive transformations. In developing this argument, this chapter challenges narrowly psychological-criminological theories—more particularly their recent applications in offender treatment. Finally, we suggest that further and more methodologically robust empirical exploration of the chronological sequencing of a range of life events and cognitive changes will be critical to developing our understanding of desistance from crime.

Keywords: desistance, cognitive transformations, changing attitudes, pro-criminal attitudes, criminal behavior, motivation, hope, cognitive skills, offender treatment, cognitive changes, emotions

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