Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Elizabeth Pinel


Background and purpose: Restorative justice is a response to crime in which the offender, or the “responsible party,” engages in a process with community stakeholders in which they learn about the harm caused by the crime and complete a “contract” in which they take action to make amends and participate in community engagement and personal development activities (Zehr, 2002). Research demonstrates that responsible parties who can adopt the difficult mindset of responsibility taking, perspective taking, and motivated engagement accrue the most benefits from restorative justice (Hipple et al., 2015). The purpose of this study is to test the effect of a values-affirmation intervention (Steele, 1988) on psychological processes and contract completion among responsible parties. Method: I recruited 116 responsible parties undergoing a restorative justice process from nine restorative justice centers to complete a Qualtrics study. Qualtrics randomly assigned participants to write for ten minutes about either their values (self-affirmation condition) or a neutral control topic. Next, participants completed measures of two mediator variables: self-integrity and existential connection, and measures of three dependent variables: responsibility taking, cognitive empathy, and contract readiness. Four months later, I documented whether or not the participant had completed their contract. Results: Compared to the control condition, those in the values-affirmation condition reported higher contract readiness and cognitive empathy, but did not report greater responsibility taking or contract completion. The effect of self-affirmation on contract readiness was mediated by self-integrity but not by existential connection. The effect of self-affirmation on cognitive empathy was mediated by existential connection but not by self-integrity. Conclusion: Restorative justice practitioners might incorporate values-affirmation into the process to help prepare responsible parties for the difficult tasks of empathy and motivation.



Number of Pages

71 p.

Available for download on Sunday, June 14, 2026