Positive reinforcement in probation practice: The practice and dilemmas of praise

Eve Mullins, Steve Kirkwood*, Peter Raynor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Positive reinforcement is a key part of probation practice, and linked to client desistance from offending. The main way practitioners positively reinforce clients’ prosocial comments or behaviours is through praising them. However, praise is tricky in interaction, as people are under pressure to accept the positive assessment whilst also avoiding self-praise. Applying conversation analysis to 21 video recordings of probation sessions originally collected for the Jersey Supervision Skills Study, we examine how this important aspect of probation features and functions in practice, and how clients respond. Our analysis shows how practitioners and clients manage the practice and dilemmas of praise.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalProbation Journal
Early online date25 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Apr 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • probation
  • corrections
  • effective practice
  • practice
  • pro-social modelling
  • praise
  • conversation analysis
  • positive reinforcement
  • desistance


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