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The association between the offender–victim relationship, severity of offence and attribution of blame in mentally disordered offenders

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The aim of this research was to investigate the association between the offender–victim relationship, severity of violence and attribution of blame for a violent act. Data were collected from 65 male psychiatric inpatients from two secure units. Participants were divided into three groups according to how well they knew their victim: victim well-known, victim acquaintance and victim stranger. Violent acts were further ranked according to offence severity. Participants were administered the Quick Test (QT) and the Gudjonsson Blame Attribution Inventory (GBAI). Although there was a trend towards higher guilt attributions when the victim was well-known to the perpetrator, this relationship was complicated by the severity of the violent act. The most severe ranking of offence (i.e. murder/manslaughter) was most common in the offender group who knew their victim well. Furthermore, guilt-feeling attributions were highest in the most severe ranking of offence. The implications of these findings for assessment and intervention programmes are considered.

Keywords: Victim; blame attribution; mentally disordered offender; offence severity

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Three Bridges Regional Secure Unit, Uxbridge Road, Middlesex, UB1 3EU, UK 2: West London Mental Health NHS Trust, Forensic Services, Uxbridge Road, Middlesex, UB1 3EU, UK

Publication date: 2005-09-01

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