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Title: Exploring the impact of sex and offence history on moral reasoning in adults with mild intellectual disabilities
Author: Mcdermott, Emily
ISNI:       0000 0004 2736 0735
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2012
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Background: There is a small growing body of literature exploring moral reasoning in adult male offenders with mild intellectual disabilities (ID). These offenders have demonstrated more mature moral reasoning than their non-offending counterparts. No published studies have explored this in females with ID, despite the existence of sex differences in moral reasoning being widely debated. This study aims to address this gap in the literature. Methods: Using a cross-sectional 2 (Sex: Men vs Women) X 2 (Offence history: Offenders vs Non-Offenders) between-subjects design, 68 adults with mild ID from secure settings and community settings were recruited. In addition to an assessment of intellectual functioning, participants completed the Socio-Moral Reflection Measure- Short Form (SRM-SF; Gibbs, Basinger & Fuller, 1992) and the Emotional Problem Scale (EPS; Prout & Strohmer, 1991). An informant version of the EPS was also used. Results: Offenders with ID demonstrated stage 2(3) reasoning, significantly higher than the stage 2 reasoning demonstrated by non-offenders. Offenders’ moral reasoning was higher on six of the individual SRM-SF constructs, however differences disappeared on two constructs after controlling for Full Scale IQ. Non-offenders reasoned below stage 2 on the Law and Legal Justice constructs, where decision making driven by obeying authority and avoiding punishment was likely to have prevented them offending. No significant sex differences were found. Total SRM-SF scores were not significantly related to offence severity. A significant positive relationship was found between moral reasoning and emotional/behavioural problems, with the study partially supporting the prediction that offenders would have higher EPS scores. XV Conclusions: Offenders, irrespective of sex, engaged in more mature moral reasoning than non-offenders, supporting previous findings. This study attempted to address methodological limitations of previous studies, such as through using a measure standardised for ID. Further research would be valuable to help develop suitable and effective interventions for this client group.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available