Does Identity Come From Labeling?: A Look at the Identity Standards of Mentally Ill Criminal Offenders and the Impact of Internalizing Labels on Their Formation

Emily K. O'Neill, University of California - Riverside
Robert Nash Parker, University of California - Riverside

Identity Control theory offers a mechanism by which Labeling theory can be tested in the criminal offender. Essentially, if labels are internalized by the individual, they become part of the individual's identity standard which serves as a guide for the individual's behavior. This paper combines the two theories to offer an explanation for a potentially "alternative" identity standard or hierarchy of identity standards for the criminal versus the non-criminal. Using self-esteem as an indi8cator of identity, the Rosenberg self-esteem scale is administered to mentally ill offenders participating in the Riverside County Mental Health Court and assessed to test the theory of an "alternative" identity for criminals.

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Updated 05/20/2006