A recent peer-reviewed article about Three Principles correctional counseling is turning heads for researchers, psychologists, and criminologists around the world.

The research, designed to monitor effects on mental health and behavior of prisoners in an English prison, showed a significant increase in mental well-being, purpose in life and prison behavior. It also demonstrated a significant decrease in depression, anxiety, and anger.

The research community is asking the question, “Can this be true?”

This is a great question to ask. It means more researchers are finding out about the Three Principles model and more opportunities for further independent testing can arise.

At the McVety grant, we want to support further inquiry into whether the Three Principles understanding can have a significant impact. One of the projects we are funding is with a social psychologist and criminologist named Adriaan Denkers.

Denkers wants to create an intuitive way to measure the Three Principles understanding. Ideally, a measure, also called a scale or an inventory, is a list of questions that can be used to gather information about one specific topic. In this case we want to develop a set of questions that reveals what students, prisoners, parents, teachers, employees, or government workers understand about the three principals at work in their lives.

Sometimes, I hear people say, “Really? Another measure? Why? We have so many!”

Measures are designed to do different things.

A depression inventory measures depression, a posttraumatic growth inventory measures posttraumatic growth. These measures or inventories that are already recognized and used in research, are not designed to measure the Three Principles understanding.

Denkers McVety project is a different kind of project from many of our other programs, here we are building on the work of other researchers like Judith Sedgeman and Thomas Kelley (to name a few), people who have developed questions for measuring the Three Principles Understanding. We want to support the development of a strong research tool, one that anyone in any field can use to measure the three principles understanding, no matter who their population is.

Adriaan Denkers recently sent us an update on his research. This process is similar to designing any new measure – he is in the pre-trial stage. In this stage, he asks regular people, who don’t know anything about the Three Principles to answer some questions. So far, these questions include several different kinds of measurements – some of them are three principles measurements. The sole purpose of using different tests is exactly as if you didn’t know if your thermometer worked. If you wanted to find out if this tool was measuring the way, it is supposed to – you would pull out different thermometers and compare. If enough of these other tools were close – you would know that the thermometer you have works! If all the other measures were similar but yours was wildly different – you would know that the thermometer you have is not measuring what you want it to.

Is this a tricky process? Sure! That is one of the things I LOVE about research. It is a process of creation, testing, examination, elimination and repeat!