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Title: Validation of the 'Victim Empathy Response Assessment (ii)' (VERA-ii) with a non-offending adult male community sample
Author: Lister, Helen
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2012
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Developing empathy has become a central component of cognitive behavioural treatment programmes for offenders, who it is argued have victim empathy deficits. It is therefore important to evaluate the effectiveness of these interventions. Research is moving towards utilising victim empathy measures as the most effective tools for this purpose, although evidence has been mixed regarding their psychometric properties. The Victim Empathy Response Assessment (VERA) was developed as a victim specific measure to assess cognitive and affective empathy in forensic settings. Limited validity has been demonstrated using an adult male forensic and community sample. Following participant feedback suggesting how to increase the validity of the tool a second video prototype VERA(ii) was developed. This study aimed to evaluate the validity of the VERA(ii) with 51 non-offending adult community males. Participants viewed the VERA(ii) whilst simultaneously providing physiological measurements of skin resistance level (SRL) and heart rate (HR). Following this they completed the VERA(ii) cognitive and affective empathy questionnaires, also the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence, Eysenck Personality Questionnaire Revised - Short Form, Eysenck Impulsiveness, Venturesomeness and Empathy Questionnaire, Maudsley Violence Questionnaire and the Story Comprehension Task. Wilcoxon signed-ranks tests demonstrated a significant difference between cognitive and affective empathy and SRL from mean baseline to mean total SRL after viewing the VERA(ii). However, Spearman’s Rho Correlations found no significant associations between physiological measures and total cognitive or affective empathy. A significant negative correlation was found between cognitive empathy and MVQ Machismo, and a significant positive correlation was found with the Story Comprehension Task. No other significant associations were demonstrated. Overall, the results of the current study have provided limited evidence for the validity of the VERA(ii). Limitations of the study have been highlighted and discussed with regards to theoretical and clinical implications. Recommendations for future research have subsequently been presented. The original intention of this research was to validate the VERA(ii) using a non-offending adult male community sample and adult male in-patient offenders. However, unfortunately due to practical difficulties severely limiting the recruitment of the offending group this part of the study could not be fully completed. The study therefore focuses upon a community sample only.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available