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A Qualitative Study of Incest Offender Implicit Theories With The Help Of A Modified Assessment Tool

This study intends to provide some insight into the various Implicit Theories (ITs) harboured by child sex offenders. ITs (Ward & Keenan, 1999) are the distorted beliefs which enable sex offenders to justify their actions and avoid taking responsibility for their offenses. The present study will examine the ITs of various types of incest offenders as these have not been studied in isolation from those of other types of child molesters. Besides facilitating offending, such ITs may act as responsivity barriers in the treatment of incest offenders. The primary aim of this study is to determine the nature of these distorted beliefs through the use of a modified assessment tool, then, do a qualitative analysis of a selected group from the initial sample to determine what these ITs look like in individual or exemplar cases, and finally discuss how such beliefs may hamper treatment success. By enhancing the understanding of these ITs, the study hopes to emphasize on the importance of strategies to avoid the obstacles in the treatment process caused by such distorted beliefs and help therapists achieve improved treatment results with incest offenders. ITs are currently considered extremely important in understanding the offending behaviour of sex offenders, as well as their attitude towards their offenses and their victims (Brown, Gray, Snowden, 2009). For example, child molesters believe that children incite sexual involvement from them through their actions (for example, sitting in the lap of the offender, hugging or kissing the offender). Such beliefs enable sex offenders to validate their forced sexual intimacy with children and also allow such offenders to justify their continued offenses against their victims (Rice & Harris, 2002). Ward (2002) argued that ITs determine how the offenders interpret their experience with their victims. Offenders are thought to reinterpret, reject, or reconstruct a sexual offence against a child in the face of an inconsistency between their ITs and the evidence (e.g., the child whom an offender may believe is interested in sex may scream or cry when assaulted rather than appear to be a willing participant), but rarely are the ITs modified (Ward & Keenan, 1999). Some studies have suggested that it takes rather compelling evidence on the contrary for the offenders to consider modifying their ITs (Rice & Harris, 2002). Hence, this study was intended to observe these ITs specifically among incest offenders to determine how they look in exemplar cases. The findings of the study strongly indicate the existence of ITs and that offenders do utilize them in order to justify their offense to themselves and the world around them. The current study also hopes to also shed some light on the importance of taking ITs into consideration in strategizing effective treatment strategies for incest offenders.
Type of thesis
Jamisetty, V. (2012). A Qualitative Study of Incest Offender Implicit Theories With The Help Of A Modified Assessment Tool (Thesis, Master of Arts (MA)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/7583
University of Waikato
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