Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Edelyn Verona, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Bryanna Fox, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Peter Clayson, Ph.D.


aggression, crime, post-concussion syndrome, recidivism, violence


Previous work has found that although mental illness is positively related to offending behavior, it is a fairly poor predictor of aggression, violence, offending, and recidivism after controlling for sociodemographic and historical risk factors (i.e., criminal history, age, race, gender). This refutes the model that mental illness is a direct cause of crime. Instead, risk for recidivism or crime related to mental health problems may be higher when combined with other risk factors. The current study evaluated traumatic brain injury (TBI) and associated symptoms of post-concussion syndrome (PCS) as potential moderators of the relationship between mental health problems and concurrently assessed aggression, violence, and criminal history, as well as prospective 1-year recidivism. Results indicated that mental health problems and number of TBIs were related cross-sectionally to aggression and to a more violent and extensive criminal history, respectively, even after adjusting for each other and sociodemographic factors. In terms of future risk of re-arrest, PCS but not number of TBIs was related to an increased rate of rearrests over 1 year. There was little evidence that TBI or PCS moderated relationships between mental health problems and aggression, violence, or arrest. Instead, results suggested independent and somewhat modest relationships of mental health problems and TBI with offending behavior and recidivism, and that these influences exist amidst a number of other contextual risk factors. Results also suggested that ongoing PCS following injury may be more important in predicting future offending behavior than number of injuries, as it may be more reflective of an individual’s current functioning.