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Title: The Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure and the role of context : the impact of working with sex offenders
Author: Foster, Alison
Awarding Body: University of Lincoln
Current Institution: University of Lincoln
Date of Award: 2012
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Introduction: There are a number of theories proposed in order to attempt to understand the behaviour of sexual offenders. A common theme that they all cover is that of the impact of thoughts and beliefs on behaviour. However, existing measures of cognitions are explicit in their nature and therefore easy to respond to in a socially acceptable way. There has recently been a move towards using implicit measures in order to increase “honest” responding to overcome this. Such measures have been utilised with sex offenders, in order to empirically investigate the process of offending as proposed by a number of theories. There is as yet no universally accepted explanation of the beliefs that sexual offenders hold about children, whether they are pre-existing and inform offending, or develop after offending in the context of justifying behaviour. The present study aimed to investigate the role of the post-offending context in the presence of ‘implicit beliefs’ using the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure with staff who work with offender relating to children and sex. Method: The Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP, Barnes-Holmes, Barnes-Holmes, Power, Hayden, Milne & Stewart, 2006) was administered to 20 staff who work with sex offenders from the UK Probation Service, asking them to respond to Child-Sexual stimuli. The same measure was also administered to a non-offender control group (n=20) with no experience of working with sex offenders for the purposes of comparison. An explicit measure (Cognitive Distortion Scale, Gannon, 2006) was also completed by both groups. Results: The control group were unable to discriminate between children as being sexual or non sexual on the IRAP, whereas the staff group responses indicated that they view children as the opposite of sexual. The CDS results converged with the IRAP, with the control group scoring significantly higher on this measure than the staff group. Discussion: The results indicate that there is an impact of context on beliefs about children, and also that the presence or non-rejection of child-sexual relations is not necessarily indicative of a sexual offender. The results may also suggest some methodological issues with the IRAP, which are discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: C840 Clinical Psychology