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Effects of symbolic modeling and behaviour rehearsal on assertive training with prison inmates Gentile, Andrew Salvatore


Although the effectiveness of assertive training has been investigated with a wide variety of clinical and non-clinical populations, few studies have investigated the effectiveness of these techniques with prison inmates. This study investigated the use of symbolic modeling and behaviour rehearsal to increase assertive skills and.decrease inappropriate aggressiveness with prison inmates. Thirty male inmates volunteered for a four week assertive training programme and were randomly assigned to a modeling, behaviour rehearsal, and a placebo control group. Ten other subjects were used as a test-retest control group. The modeling group received videotape-mediated modeling in which positive and negative assertions were demonstrated to 16 standardized situations. The behavioural rehearsal group received opportunities to shape and practice appropriate assertions to the same situations without the aid of viewing filmed models. The placebo control group viewed discussion films and the test-retest group received no treatment intervention. Self-reported measures, in-laboratory behavioural ratings, and in vivo behavioural assessments were used to assess changes in assertiveness, aggressiveness, and anxiety. Results indicated that inmates in the treatment groups significantly increased their verbal assertive skills (i.e., verbal content), but not their non-verbal skills (i.e., eye contact, latency, loudness). The efficacy of assertive training techniques in regard to their differential impact on verbal and non-verbal skills components and aggressiveness are discussed. On in vivo behavioural measures of assertiveness observed on the wards no differences resulted between treatments and controls. This indicated that verbal assertiveness learned in training did not generalize to other unfamiliar situations. Also the behavioural changes in the laboratory occurred without corresponding changes in self-reported assertiveness. The discrepancy between findings as measured by in-laboratory assessments and in vivo assessments is discussed in terms of generalization of skills environment receptivity to change, and other factors responsible for the differences. All the response components were affected by the particular type of situation presented. Assertiveness changed as a function of social-interpersonal context of positive feeling siutations, negative hostile situations, and situations simulated inside and outside the prison setting. These findings suggest that future investigations ought to develop methodologies for identifying the environmental stimuli which influence assertiveness in order to train clients in situations related to their assertive deficits.

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