Labelology

A quick question to begin with is a person who kills another person, a murderer?

However, by saying someone is a murderer you are also saying at their very core they are the type of person who murders people. Yet there are several reasons behind why someone has killed another, some could be purely accidental, preventable accidents but still accidents. (On the flip side, you never, or rarely, hear the term ex-murderer).

If someone does something bad, we then see them as a bad person, but not that it is possible they were a good person who did a bad thing.

Change, reform, rehabilitation, or however you wish to call it, can, and does, take place and I would suggest more often than it gets credit for. Especially when it is mainly the negative aspects we get to hear about. Personally, I see nothing wrong with being proud of a prison system. Look at the prison in Norway that everyone talks about. The Norwegians are extremely proud of Halden prison. I don’t think a day passes on social media without Halden being mentioned somewhere. I can’t see us ever replicating Halden in the UK, but then that doesn’t mean we cannot design our own way. I wonder how many people reading this are aware that 99.97% (+/- .02) of ROTL’s are successful. A ROTL is Release On Temporary Licence. It’s a scheme whereby risk-assessed prisoners can leave the prison and return daily to work in the community. Bit more to it than that, but in its basic form that is what they are for. Given an opportunity, most prisoners will bite your hand off for it.

Believe it or not, just by believing other people can change comes with benefits.

In a paper, which was published in the June 2014 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology by David Yeager et al., they studied the relationship between beliefs and stress to see if we had a less fixed view of others would it reduce overall stress. They conducted the research at an American high school with ninth-graders (14-15) who at the beginning of the school year were asked if they believed people can change their personalities. After this they then played a computer game called Cyberball, which tests participants’ reaction to social exclusion. They sat students in front of a computer screen where they believed they were taking part with two other students and a ball was digitally passed from one to the other. After the first round, the computer programme excluded the actual participating student from the game, who would then watch as the ball passed between the other two computer students for several minutes. At the end, the researchers would ask the student how stressful they found the game. Researchers concluded for those students who at the start of the test believed personality can change were less affected by being excluded from the game.

At the end of the year, researchers found that those same students had lower stress levels, higher grades, plus better physical and mental health.

Researchers then selected two different schools, one in a wealthy neighbourhood and one in a socioeconomically deprived area, and again, using ninth-graders but those who were close to failing in their schools. They still accessed the same game, Cyberball, but before taking part in the game this time, they placed the students into two groups. The experimental group and the control group. Students in the experimental condition read about how personality can change. They also read stories about how by believing people could change helped certain people become successful. In the control condition, they provided students with stories on how athletic ability can change.

At the end of the year, the students in the experimental condition, those who read about personality changing, were not only less affected by being excluded from the game but they also had lower stress levels, higher grades plus better physical and mental health than those in the control group. In fact, the positive effect was higher among those students who initially believed personality couldn’t change.

There is a growing body of evidence which suggests that just by having the belief people can change comes with many benefits.

We are all better than the worse thing we have done.

Judging a book by its cover has the potential of affecting you more than the book.

One thought on “Labelology

  1. It is actually staggering to see the difference between rates of reoffending for those in prison for under 12 months, around 67% I think, and those over which is closer to 27%. This would indicate that short prison sentences do not work in encouraging people away from criminal activities and giving them the belief that their future is away from crime. Certainly people must have the desire to change and will not find that unless they are given the support to get the belief. This should be a priority. You are right.

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