Alumnus Evan McCuish, assistant professor in the School of Criminology, is this year’s winner of the American Psychology-Law Society’s Dissertation Award.


Award for best dissertation won by alumnus Evan McCuish

March 23, 2017

Evan McCuish, recent alumnus of the School of Criminology, is this year’s winner of the American Psychology-Law Society’s Dissertation Award.

His PhD dissertation, titled "Bringing Psychopathy into Research on Offending Trajectories: Understanding the Construct’s Role as a Barrier to Desistance" challenges traditional longitudinal studies in criminology by asserting that these studies are not well equipped to address questions concerning differences between chronic offenders and desisters primarily because they miss a key demographic – offending patterns of youth at the “deep end” of the criminal justice system.

McCuish’s dissertation concentrated on the offending patterns of these youth with special attention given to the manner in which symptoms of psychopathy could be integrated into existing theories of desistance.

“Marriage, parenthood, and employment are key turning points expected to initiate desistance from crime. For individuals with high symptoms of psychopathy, their responsivity to such turning points may be limited. For example, we would not expect the unempathic, uncaring, and self-centred individual to care about the well-being of their partner or child. Thus, their ties to these individuals will not provide the ‘hooks for change’ needed to initiate the desistance process,” says McCuish of his research findings.

“This is not to suggest that treatment cannot be effective. Rather, for adolescents, because this is an age period characterized by developmental change, emphasis should be on treatment strategies that reduce the severity and functional impairment of psychopathy symptoms that may inhibit an individual from benefiting from positive turning points.”

McCuish received his PhD under the supervision of Raymond Corrado, professor and associate director of research in the School of Criminology.

“Evan’s research is an original contribution to the developmental and life course theoretical perspective. His creativity and theoretical focus plus tremendous work ethic have always distinguished him as an exceptional young scholar,” says Corrado.

McCuish was hired as an assistant professor in the School of Criminology upon the completion of his degree in Fall 2016.

As first place winner, McCuish received an award of $1,000 USD and a plaque to commemorate the award. All place winners were invited to attend the opening session of this year’s American Psychology-Law Society’s conference, and present a poster in the “Winner’s Circle”.