3 Crim. Just. & Behavior 3 (1976)

handle is hein.journals/crmjusbhv3 and id is 1 raw text is: 







THE PREDICTION OF

DANGEROUS BEHAVIOR


EDWIN I. MEGARGEE
Florida State University



Error is inevitable whenever psychologists attempt to predict future behavior. This
paper examines the steps involved and the factors to be considered in the prediction
of behavior in general and dangerous behavior in particular. Errors can occur in
identifying the relevant personality and situational variables to sample, assessing these
variables, and determining their interaction. The effects of these errors are multiplied
by the fact that violence is a low base-rate phenomenon. The consequences of errors
in violence prediction are examined and the ethical problems and social policy
implications discussed.




A t no time has the prediction of dangerous behavior been of
      greater concern to mental health professionals and society
at large. In addition to the natural concern over preventing
violence directed at public figures and ordinary citizens, the
problem of predicting dangerous behavior is a common bridge


Author's Note: This paper is based on papers delivered at the Second
Annual Florida Symposium on Dangerousness, Gainesville, Florida, March
14, 1975 and the Fourth International Seminar on Comparative Clinical
Criminology, Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy, April 29, 1975. Preparation
was supported in part by USPttS Grant No. MH 13202; NIMH: Center for
Studies of Crime and Delinquency. All statements and opinions expressed
are those of the author and should not be construed as representing
official policies, opinions, or attitudes of' the Public Health Service. The
author would like to thank Wally Kennedy and Jean Kling for their
comments on an earlier draft as well as the suggestions for improvement
by the anonymous reviewers, particularly Saleem Shah.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND BEHAVIOR, Vol. 3 No. 1, March 1976
0 1976 American Association of Correctional Psychologists

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