Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Department Chair

Stephanie Felgoise, PhD, ABPP

First Advisor

Robert A. DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP

Second Advisor

Stephen R. Poteau, PhD

Third Advisor

Michael B. Roberts, PsyD


Statistics suggest that crime is occurring at a startling rate and recidivism is a persistent problem in the American criminal justice system. Past research revealed that treatment focused on challenging criminogenic thinking aided in reducing recidivism. Hence, the purpose of this study was to examine cognitive distortions used by criminals and to enhance evidence-based psychotherapy focused on challenging criminogenic cognitions. This study explored the psychometric properties of a self-report inventory of cognitive distortions using a forensic sample and examined overall differences in levels of cognitive distortions. Participants were recruited through social networking sites. Measures were the Inventory of Cognitive Distortions (ICD), the Texas Christian University-Criminal Thinking Scale (TCU-CTS), a criminal history questionnaire, and a demographics questionnaire. Results revealed positive psychometric properties for the ICD. Internal consistency reliability was strong, with a coefficient alpha of .98. Factor analysis revealed five factors, three of which were identical to factors from the original study: externalization of self-worth, perfectionism, and emotional reasoning and decision making. Two new factors were identified: negative expectations and jumping to conclusions and absolutistic/dichotomous thinking. Criminal participants endorsed higher levels of cognitive distortions. The ICD correlated positively and significantly with five of the six subscales on the TCU-CTS. Although cognitive distortions have been shown to perpetuate criminal behavior and recidivism, future research should explore the relationship between cognitive distortions and other factors that contribute to criminal behavior and recidivism.

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