Introduction: the paper proves that when studying hardiness in lifers it is constructive to use a concept developed by Salvatore R. Maddi, in the framework of which a three-component structure of this phenomenon was substantiated and a methodology for its studying was developed. The validity and reliability of this methodology was also confirmed during its initial adaptation in the research group of D.A. Leontiev and in many studies of Russian psychologists, on samples of convicts, too. Aim: to figure out the reasons for such a variety of findings on lifers and to determine their level of hardiness and motivation for pro-social life upon release. To achieve this goal we use the findings of a comprehensive study conducted in 2020 among inmates of Penal Colony no. 5 of the Vologda Oblast Division of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia. Methods: we studied the transformation of personality of convicted lifers on a sample of 46 men (aged 28 to 64 and held in the penal colony for the period from 8 to 26 years) with the use of the Hardiness Survey, semistructured interviews and essays – reflective self-reports of inmates on the difficulties that arise in the conditions of the correctional institution. Results: we have revealed that only one in ten convicts (10.9%) has a high level of overall hardiness, while one in four (23.9%) has a low level of overall hardiness. Among the components of hardiness, the lowest scores among the surveyed are observed on the scales “challenge” and “commitment” (37% and 30.4%, respectively). Slightly better scores are on the “control” scale (low level is observed in 26.1% of respondents), according to the data of interviews and essays, are associated with the influence of strict regime conditions. Conclusions: based on all the findings of the research, including the features of lifers’ dominant experiences and motivation for pro-social life on the outside, we substantiate the criteria for assessing their psychological readiness for being released on parole and the need for anthropological proportionality in the treatment of inmates with different levels of subject activity.
Keywords: hardiness; lifers; commitment; control; challenge; correctional institutions; punishment in the form of incarceration; release of lifers on parole; lifers’ personality features.
Deputy Head of the Psychological Faculty of the Vologda Institute of Law and Economics of the Federal Penal Service of Russia, PhD. in Psychology, Associate Professor
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Professor of the Department of Scientific Foundations of Extreme Psychology of the Faculty of Extreme Psychology of Moscow State Psychological and Pedagogical University, Dsc. in Psychology, Professor
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Vologda Institute of Law and Economics of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia, Vologda, Russian Federation
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