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Benjamin Cuff.  To give an overview of current practice (from a research point of view)  To present a new line of research that may be useful in offender.

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Presentation on theme: "Benjamin Cuff.  To give an overview of current practice (from a research point of view)  To present a new line of research that may be useful in offender."— Presentation transcript:

1 Benjamin Cuff

2  To give an overview of current practice (from a research point of view)  To present a new line of research that may be useful in offender empathy interventions  To present preliminary data for the influence of person specific, cognitive antecedents of empathy

3  Seems obvious to many that offenders lack empathy, and that this deficit must be addressed.  Introduced into SOTPs in the 1970s.  Rapidly grew in prevalence, despite the lack of empirical support. ◦ Research began in the 1990s (Marshall et al., 1995)  Contained in 87-95% of US SOTPs (McGrath et al., 2010).  1/5 th of time spent of empathy in England & Wales SOTPs (Mann & Barnett, 2012).

4  Mixed results (Brown et al., 2013)  Most programmes have multiple components, and it is unclear which are the most successful (Marshall & Serran, 2000)  Theoretical Issues General Deficits: “The evidence demonstrating that sex offenders have empathy deficits…is at best equivocal” (Brown et al., 2013) Victim Work: There is no empirical evidence for the notion that developing empathy for past victims generalizes to future situations (Barnett & Mann, 2013a)

5  Generalised treatments are likely inappropriate. ◦ (With the possible exception of psychopaths.)  Victim empathy work needs a greater empirical base. ◦ “Victim empathy work with sexual offenders is inconsistently articulated, poorly understood, and largely untested empirically” Mann & Barnett (2012, p.295)  A need to go back to basics in terms of our theoretical understanding of these issues.

6  Examine the multiple reasons why these deficits arise, rather than target the empathy deficits themselves (Barnett & Mann, 2013a). ◦ Suggested in the victim-specific deficits literature (Marshall & Colleagues)  Marshall et al., (1995, p.109) ◦ “We believe that researchers should … develop more person- specific measures that may reveal inabilities to empathize with their victims rather than a generalized lack of empathy.” (Marshall et al., 1995)  These inabilities may result from cognitions (attitudes, justifications, denial, minimisation etc.) (Brown et al., 2013), and these cognitions should form the key targets for assessment and treatment (Barnett & Mann, 2013a).

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8  Sex offender implicit theories (Polaschek & Ward, 2002): 1.Women as Unknowable 2.Women are sex objects 3.Male sex drive is uncontrollable 4.Entitlement 5.Dangerous world  CDs can interrupt empathic responding (Ward, Polaschek, & Beech, 2005)  Some evidence for effectiveness of CD interventions (Watson and Stermac, 1994)  However: ◦ Specific to offending ◦ Persistently held

9  9 person specific cognitions that have an influence on empathy: ValuingDo I value the target as a person? Perceived NeedDoes the target need help? MoralityDo I find this morally wrong? Cognitive EmpathyAm I able to understand why the target reacted in that way? AgencyAm I in control of what happens? SimilarityIs the target similar to myself? Self-InterestDo my needs take priority over the needs of the target? BlameDo I blame the target? Perceived PowerI am a more powerful person than the target?

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11  “The Cognitive Antecedents of Empathic Responding Scale”  11 subscales (9 cognitions + empathy & sympathy)  177 undergraduate students  Good internal reliability ◦ α =  Good correlations with IRI (concurrent validity)

12 CognitionDescriptionEffect on Empathy r ValuingDo I value the target as a person? .65** Perceived NeedDoes the target need help? .42** MoralityDo I find this morally wrong? .42** Cognitive Empathy Am I able to understand why the target reacted in that way? .41** AgencyAm I in control of what happens?  37** SimilarityIs the target similar to myself? .35** Self-InterestDo my needs take priority over the needs of the target?  -.40** BlameDo I blame the target?  -.37** Perceived Power I am a more powerful person than the target?  -.22** **p < 0.01

13  Certain cognitions seem to be particularly important for donation behaviours: ◦ Agency ◦ Valuing ◦ Morality ◦ Blame (-)  More research is required to establish those cognitions which have the greatest impact on offending behaviour ◦ (both causative and preventative) Cuff et al. (in preparation)

14  Understanding how offenders see their victims as being “different” may lead to person-specific treatment approaches.  Treatments should target each individual’s specific blocks to empathy (Barnett & Mann, 2013a).  Personalizing the victim in a way that is relevant to the offender (Marshall & Marshall, 2011) ◦ Find cognitive deficits (e.g., similarity) and target those (e.g., find a way to make the victim seem more ‘similar’).

15  Mann & Barnett (2012, p.287) ◦ “Although (specific) victim empathy deficits may be observable in [offenders], this alone does not constitute an argument to address them in treatment, unless these deficits also predict recidivism, or if there is evidence that addressing them reduces recidivism.”  More Research Is Needed!!

16  Mixed support for current intervention approaches  It may be fruitful to look at the antecedents of empathy, rather than empathy itself.  More research into context specific cognitions is needed ◦ Interventions could target individual risk factors.

17  Barnett, G., & Mann, R. E. (2013a). Empathy deficits and sexual offending: A model of obstacles to empathy. Aggression and Violent Behavior,  Brown, S.J., Walker, K., Gannon, T.A., & Keown, K. (2013). Creating a psychologically comfortable position: The link between empathy and cognitions in sex offenders. Journal of Sexual Aggression, 19,  Cuff, Brown, Taylor, Howat, & Sleath (under review). The Cognitive Antecedents of Empathic Responding Scale. Psychological Assessment.  Cuff, Brown, Taylor, Howat, & Sleath (in preparation). Cognitions, empathy, and charitable donations.  Hanson, R. K. (2003). Empathy deficits of sexual offenders: A conceptual model. Journal of Sexual Aggression, 9,  Marshall, L.E., & Marshall, W.L. (2011). Empathy and antisocial behaviour. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, 22,  Marshall & Serran, 2000  Marshall, W. L., Hudson, S. M., Jones, R., & Fernandez, Y. M. (1995). Empathy in sex offenders. Clinical Psychology Review, 15,  McGrath et al., 2010  Mann, R.E., & Barnett, G.D. (2012). Victim empathy intervention with sexual offenders: Rehabilitation, punishment, or correctional quackery? Sex Abuse,  Polaschek, D., & Ward, T. (2002). The implicit theories of potential rapists: What our questionnaires tell us. Aggression & Violent Behaviour, 7,  Ward, T., Polaschek, D., & Beech, A. (2005). Theories of Sexual Offending. Chichester: Wiley.  Watson, R. J., & Stermac, L. E. (1994). Cognitive group counseling for sexual offenders. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 38, 259–269.

18 Any Questions?


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