Psychopathy moderates the relationship between time in treatment and levels of empathy in incarcerated male sexual offenders

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Abstract

This study examined whether psychopathy moderated the relationship between time in treatment and forms of empathy in a sample of incarcerated male sexual offenders (N = 58). Empathy was assessed as a general personality trait as well as in attitudes toward specific victim groups (children, women).The three empathy measures were submitted to principal components analysis with oblique rotation, revealing a 3-component solution: general empathy, hostility toward women, and empathy for children. Hierarchical linear regression analyses demonstrated that level of psychopathy significantly moderated the effects of time in treatment on levels of general and victim-specific empathy, such that offenders with higher levels of psychopathy did not exhibit greater empathy with longer reported time in treatment. In contrast, offenders with lower levels of psychopathy exhibited greater empathy with longer time in treatment. Implications for treatment planning for sexual offenders are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-192
Number of pages22
JournalSexual Abuse: Journal of Research and Treatment
Volume23
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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