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Victim Empathy and Emotion Processing in Sex Offenders

Victim Empathy and Emotion Processing in Sex Offenders
Victim Empathy and Emotion Processing in Sex Offenders

Sex offenders are considered to suffer from deficits in their ability to experience empathy, and this is thought to be important in the development and maintenance of their offending. The first article reviews the literature concerning victim empathy deficits in sex offenders and outlines a multi-component staged model of empathy. Emotion recognition, the first stage of the model, is considered in greater detail as it is proposed to be most pivotal to the empathic process. A model of emotion processing that has developed from the neurocognitive literature is presented as a way of understanding this first stage in this model of empathy. The implications of this more specific approach to the assessment and treatment of sex offenders are discussed alongside suggestions for future research.

The empirical paper investigates non-verbal emotion recognition from a neurocognitive emotion processing perspective. Two matched groups of 17 convicted sex offenders and 20 community males undertook a series of tasks involving face and prosody discrimination problems (The Florida Affect Battery, Bowers et al, 1991). No significant differences were found between the sex offender group and the comparison group on most tasks, although, consistent with previous research, there was a non-significant trend for sex offenders to have specific problems on identifying facial emotion tasks. It is suggested that future research explores victim-specific and state-dependent aspects of emotion processing and to consider how this may improve intervention, and, ultimately, the prevention of sexual offending.

University of Southampton
Cox, Michelle
Cox, Michelle

Cox, Michelle (2001) Victim Empathy and Emotion Processing in Sex Offenders. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

Sex offenders are considered to suffer from deficits in their ability to experience empathy, and this is thought to be important in the development and maintenance of their offending. The first article reviews the literature concerning victim empathy deficits in sex offenders and outlines a multi-component staged model of empathy. Emotion recognition, the first stage of the model, is considered in greater detail as it is proposed to be most pivotal to the empathic process. A model of emotion processing that has developed from the neurocognitive literature is presented as a way of understanding this first stage in this model of empathy. The implications of this more specific approach to the assessment and treatment of sex offenders are discussed alongside suggestions for future research.

The empirical paper investigates non-verbal emotion recognition from a neurocognitive emotion processing perspective. Two matched groups of 17 convicted sex offenders and 20 community males undertook a series of tasks involving face and prosody discrimination problems (The Florida Affect Battery, Bowers et al, 1991). No significant differences were found between the sex offender group and the comparison group on most tasks, although, consistent with previous research, there was a non-significant trend for sex offenders to have specific problems on identifying facial emotion tasks. It is suggested that future research explores victim-specific and state-dependent aspects of emotion processing and to consider how this may improve intervention, and, ultimately, the prevention of sexual offending.

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Published date: 2001

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Local EPrints ID: 467056
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/467056
PURE UUID: 16d57ccf-e5ab-480f-ad29-8fda9eb3d4a9

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Date deposited: 05 Jul 2022 08:10
Last modified: 05 Jul 2022 08:10

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Contributors

Author: Michelle Cox

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