Non sex offenders display distorted thinking and have empathy deficits too: A thematic analysis of cognitions and the application of empathy

Walker, Kate and Brown, Sarah J. and Gannon, Theresa A. and Keown, Kirsten (2012) Non sex offenders display distorted thinking and have empathy deficits too: A thematic analysis of cognitions and the application of empathy. Journal of Sexual Aggression, 19 (3). pp. 275-294. ISSN 1355-2600. E-ISSN 1742-6545. (doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/13552600.2012.747223) (Full text available)

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Abstract

It is generally assumed that empathy acts to disinhibit behaviour that could be perceived as detrimental to others and as a result is a common feature of offender treatment programmes. The present research hypothesised that empathy in all populations is both a situational and a selective process that is ultimately governed by self-interest and further, that it is the nature of the self-interest that distinguishes individuals rather than a general empathy deficit per se. Empathic processes were observed in a non-offending population in a personal situation normally regarded as evocative of empathy, infidelity. Thematic analysis of data from individuals who reported being faithful or unfaithful to their partners, revealed five dominant themes: Vulnerable Predisposition, Emotional Motivators, Rational Emotive Decision Making, Avoiding Cognitive Dissonance, and Lack of Remorse. The themes all revealed how individuals employed cognitive strategies, which were managed by self-interest that functioned to create cognitive states devoid of empathy.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: Empathy, thematic analysis, cognitive distortions, cognitive dissonance, sexual offending.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Psychology > Centre of Research & Education in Forensic Psychology
Depositing User: Theresa Gannon
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2013 11:09 UTC
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2016 14:15 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/35091 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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