Deficits in Theory of Mind, empathic understanding and moral reasoning: a comparison between young offenders and non-offenders

Journal article


Spenser, Karin A., Betts, Lucy R. and Das Gupta, Mani 2015. Deficits in Theory of Mind, empathic understanding and moral reasoning: a comparison between young offenders and non-offenders. Psychology, Crime & Law. https://doi.org/10.1080/1068316X.2015.1028542
AuthorsSpenser, Karin A., Betts, Lucy R. and Das Gupta, Mani
Abstract

Previous research suggests a lack of pro-social skills is characteristic of an antisocial or offending personality. It is therefore reasonable to assume that an inadequate understanding of another's mental state may contribute to antisocial or offending behaviour. Forty-six young-adult male offenders and a control completed measures to assess: Theory of Mind (ToM), empathic understanding (EU) and moral reasoning. Significant differences in the performance of young-adult offenders and the control group were detected in ToM, EU and moral reasoning with young-adult offenders scoring lower than the control group. A positive association was also found between ToM, EU and moral reasoning. These findings contribute to a further understanding of how individuals make sense of, and respond to, the social world around them. The ability to measure ToM, EU and moral reasoning and subsequently identify any specific deficits, as well as recognise the link between these three key skills, is not only useful for researchers but it will also allow practitioners to tailor existing (or develop new) interventions specific to the needs of an individual. This could be particularly useful in terms of recidivism when applied to those involved in antisocial or offending behaviour.

KeywordsOffenders; Pro-social skills; Theory of Mind; Moral reasoning; Empathy
Year2015
JournalPsychology, Crime & Law
PublisherRoutledge
ISSN1068-316X
1477-2744
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/1068316X.2015.1028542
Web address (URL)http://hdl.handle.net/10545/620947
hdl:10545/620947
Publication dates09 Apr 2015
Publication process dates
Deposited21 Nov 2016, 16:45
Accepted02 Feb 2015
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ContributorsNottingham Trent University and Staffordshire University
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