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A re-examination of female child molesters’ implicit theories: evidence of female specificity?

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Recent research by Beech, Parrett, Ward, and Fisher has suggested that Ward and Keenan's male-derived implicit theories represent a good theoretical fit for explaining female child molesters’ offence-supportive cognitions. This paper re-examines the applicability of Ward and Keenan's (1999) male-derived implicit theories for explaining the self-reported offence-supportive cognitions of 16 UK female child molesters. Using almost identical analytic methods to Beech et al., we show that it is indeed possible to code female child molesters’ offence-supportive cognitions under each of the five male-derived implicit theories proposed by Ward and Keenan. However, our results show that the content of female child molesters’ offence-supportive cognitions appears very different to that of male child molesters. Based on our findings, we discuss relevant treatment implications and offer a re-conceptualization of implicit theories for female child molesters using the sex-role stereotyping literature. We also propose that unlike male child molesters female child molesters are unlikely to hold generalized implicit theories that sexualize children.

Keywords: child molesters; child sexual abuse; female; implicit theories; sexual offender

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: School of Psychology,University of Kent, Canterbury, UK 2: HMP Dovegate, Staffordshire, UK

Publication date: February 1, 2012


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