Child sexual exploitation material offenders: pinpointing their implicit theories

Bartels, Ross, Merdian, Hannah Lena and Rowland, Rebecca (2016) Child sexual exploitation material offenders: pinpointing their implicit theories. In: Annual Conference of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, 2 - 5 November 2016, Orlando, Florida.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Poster)
Item Status:Live Archive


According to Ward and Keenan (1999), offense-supportive cognitions reported by contact child abusers are underpinned by implicit theories (ITs) about the self, others, and the world. Recent research has shown that users of online child sexual exploitation material (CSEM) typically do not endorse these ITs, or the offence-supportive cognitions related to it, thus identifying CSEM users as a distinct type of sex offender. Recently, Bartels and Merdian (2016) consulted the existing CSEM literature and identified five ITs related more specifically to CSEM use; namely, Unhappy World, Self as Uncontrollable, Child as Sexual Object, Nature of Harm (CSEM variant), and Self as Collector, each of which is underpinned by an assumption about the Reinforcing Nature of the Internet.
The present study aimed to validate this initial conceptualization by qualitatively analyzing 10 interviews conducted with male CSEM users in the UK, at different stages of the judicial system. The analysis provides empirical support for the theoretical conceptualisation of all five ITs, and highlights the interrelationships between them. In addition, some of the ITs reported by Ward and Keenan were also identified. The analysis further explored the role of these ITs, and their differential endorsement, in terms of the individual pathways to offending behaviour. The results may thus indicate that different ITs are associated with different types of CSEM users (e.g., those that are contact-driven versus fantasy-driven). Implications for the assessment and treatment of CSEMO-related cognitions are discussed, along with limitations and suggestions for future research.

Keywords:implicit theories, cognitive distortions, child sexual exploitation
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C810 Applied Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C840 Clinical Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
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ID Code:28282
Deposited On:14 Aug 2017 09:05

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