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NCJ Number: 221565 Find in a Library
Title: Social Perception Deficits, Cognitive Distortions, and Empathy Deficits in Sex Offenders: A Brief Review
Journal: Trauma, Violence, & Abuse: A Review Journal  Volume:9  Issue:1  Dated:January 2008  Pages:34-55
Author(s): Emily Blake; Theresa Gannon
Date Published: January 2008
Page Count: 22
Type: Literature Review
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This literature review examines the difference between sex offenders and nonoffenders regarding social-perception skills, cognitive distortions, and empathy skills.
Abstract: The review found that there are many factors that distinguish sex offenders from nonoffenders. In terms of attitudes, rape-related beliefs, and the endorsement of offense-supportive statements, rapists and child sex offenders apparently hold maladaptive beliefs that not only give themselves permission to commit their crimes but also shape and maintain their offending behavior. There are differences among researchers, however, about the definition of "cognitive distortions" among sex offenders and the role they play in sexual offending. It is unclear as to whether the offender is expressing embedded beliefs that underlie offending patterns or is using rationalizations to justify behaviors caused by other factors. From research findings, however, sexually aggressive men and convicted sex offenders do have difficulty in recognizing the accurate meaning of women's interpersonal reactions to the offender's behavior, particularly when a woman is rejecting their sexual advances. Rapists' perceptions seem to overestimate women's sexual desire; whereas, child molesters underestimate sexual desire in adult women. Also, research has found that many offenders lack significant restraints on their behavior toward others based in a concern not to inflict harm. Empathy, which involves sensitivity to the feelings and problems of others, is apparently lacking in many offenders, including sex offenders. It is important that treatment providers identify the distinctive beliefs and feelings that underlie and stimulate the behaviors of various types of sex offenders so they can be targeted for therapy. 1 figure and 81 references
Main Term(s): Criminology; Sex offenders
Index Term(s): Antisocial attitudes; Attitudes toward victims; Comparative analysis; Offender attitudes; Sex offender profiles
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