Monday, September 11, 2006

Gender, race, and the self in mental health and crime.

This article refers to a qualitative analysis implemented – using a z-score hypothesis testing model to analyze self-salience- in order to test a research hypothesis which established that there are sharp and uniform differences in mental problems and crime according to gender and race. In this analysis we should take notice of the sampling used. The number of those respondents, males and females in adolescence (the point at which these pattern of behavior arise), who described themselves as white was eleven and a half times larger than the sample population of African-Americans, which only totaled 106 individuals. Thus, the authors conceded that “this research should be considered exploratory” (pp. 168) on the basis of the small sample of African-Americans, although they defended the outcome of the study, and against selection bias, pointing to the fact that their results “replicate those found in previous research with larger samples” (pp. 169).

The results record that with regard to internalizing (e.g., symptoms of depression and anxiety) and externalizing (e.g., theft, assault, and substance abuse) problems, there are differences in the patterns of behavior according to gender and race. Moreover, differences are statistically significant, in all cases, at which point the null hypothesis should be rejected.

Also, it was observed that there is a strong correlation between self-importance and mental health problems, although further studies would be necessary in order to demonstrate causation.

This work represents an innovative approach about “the social determinants of mental health problems and criminal behavior” (pp. 179), contributing, thus, to theoretical frameworks in the area of social problems, health, and criminology.


Rosenfield, S., Phillips, J. & White, H. (2006). Gender, race, and the self in mental health and crime. Social Problems, 53 (2). Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 161-185.
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