The offender's narrative: Unresolved dissonance in life as a film (LAAF) responses

Donna Youngs, David Canter, Nikki Carthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose. A growing body of literature indicates the value of exploring the accounts
offenders give of their lives. This raises questions about whether offenders' narratives,
distinctive from those of non-offenders, elucidate the identity and agency processes
that facilitate continued offending.
Method. To explore this, 61 offenders and 90 non- offenders described their Life as a
Film (LAAF).
Results. Significant differences between the two samples are revealed across content
categories relating to Implicit Content, Explicit Processes, Complexity and Agency.
These relate to a central focus on criminality as a dominant aspect of identity, a
generally negative undertone, a concern with the materialistic within the narrative and
the significant, yet problematic nature, of relations with others. These four features
capture a meta-narrative of Unresolved Dissonance sustaining offending.
Conclusion. The findings open the way for the use of the LAAF in order to explore
ways of resolving offenders' Unresolved Dissonance, through reconstructing their
narratives, complementing the Good Lives approach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-265
JournalLegal and Criminological Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2014


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