Personality characteristics of habitual DUI and reckless driving offenders: Types of motivational distortion

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Steer, Robert A.
Scoles, Pascal E.
Fine, Eric W.

Steer, R. A., Scoles, P. E., Fine, E. W. (1984). Personality Characteristics of Habitual DUI and Reckless Driving Offenders: Types of Motivational Distortion. Multivariate Experimental Clinical Research, 7(1), 35-48.


The Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF) was administered to 92 men arrested for habitually driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol and 56 men arrested for reckless driving. The reckless driving offenders described themselves as more intelligent, bold, rebellious, extroverted, independent, and less guilt-prone than the habitual DUI offenders. Both groups' high Motivational Distortion scores indicated, however, that they were consciously faking socially desirable traits. A modal profile analysis was conducted to determine whether or not both samples had attempted to project similar types of motivational distortion. Five between-shape components were identified: shrewd, warmhearted, conscientious, imaginative, and resourceful. The effectiveness of using the 16PF to evaluate the personality characteristics of men arrested for DUI and reckless driving was questioned. The prevalence of psychopathology in persons arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol has been estimated as high. The literature concerning individuals requiring the attention of the criminal justice system is also overwhelmingly supportive of the idea that the majority of offenders are emotionally disturbed and in many instances dependent on drugs or alcohol (Poley, Lea, & Vibe, 197). Such findings do not imply simple cause and effect phenomena, so far as the antisocial behavior is concerned, but do suggest that the association between antisocial behavior and emotional-addictive illnesses is important. Alcoholism, drug dependency, personality disorders, neuroses, and occasionally psychotic illnesses are frequently found in persons apprehended for criminal behavior. Any prison population has a high incidence of alcoholism and drug abuse; and more often than not, these phenomena are associated with varying degrees of psychological dysfunctioning. The purposes of the present study were to assess the personality characteristics of habitual DUI and reckless driving offenders, to compare these offenders' mean personality traits, and to determine whether or not these offenders shared common personality profiles. The habitual DUI offenders were defined as persons who had been previously arrested for DUI violations, whereas the reckless driving offenders had been arrested for violating Pennsylvania's reckless driving statutes.

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