UK Data Service data catalogue record for:

Neurocognitive profile of sexual offenders - Experimental data

Title details

SN: 852521
Title: Neurocognitive profile of sexual offenders - Experimental data
Persistent identifier: 10.5255/UKDA-SN-852521
Depositor: Ian Mitchell, University of Birmingham
Principal investigator(s): Ian Mitchell, University of Birmingham
Sponsor(s): Economic and Social Research Council
Grant number: ES/L002337/1


The citation for this study is:

Ian Mitchell, University of Birmingham. (2017). Neurocognitive profile of sexual offenders - Experimental data. Data catalogue. UK Data Service. SN: 852521,

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Abstract copyright data collection owner.

The aim of the project was to provide objective measures of the neurocognitive profiles of sex offender to determine how they differ in terms of traits associated with psychopathy and anxiety. The measures used focused on tracking eye movements when making judgments about emotional facial expressions and the use of personality inventories for scoring psychopathic traits and social anxiety traits. Participants included sex offenders serving custodial sentences and comparison groups including violent offenders, intimate partner offenders, as well as non-offender samples of both undergraduate students and members of the local community.

Sexual offenders can be categorised in terms of whether they commit their offences against adult women or children. However, this simple categorisation does not necessarily reflect the underlying psychological characteristics of individuals who commit sexual offences. It has been hypothesised that individuals who perpetrate rape of woman have high psychopathic traits whereas many, but not all, of those who offend against children have strong paedophilic tendencies. Moreover, it has been postulated that sexual offenders with high psychopathic traits may have emotional deficits relating to fear whereas paedophilic tendencies maybe associated with social anxiety problems. However, much of the current theorizing is based on data derived from self report measures which suffer from a lack of objectivity. This project aims to address this problem by using experimental techniques to explore the cognitive profiles of offenders who have committed different types of sexual crime. The work will focus on assessing whether i) the ability to recognise fearful facial expressions is specifically impaired in those who perpetrate sexual offences against women, as such deficits have been reported in diagnosed psychopaths, and ii) those with apparent paedophilic tendencies show difficulties in disengaging attention from emotionally significant stimuli as such problems are associated with anxiety.

Coverage, universe, methodology

Dates of fieldwork: 02 January 2014 - 01 January 2017
Country: United Kingdom
Observation units: Individuals
Kind of data: Alpha-numeric
Method of data collection: Experimental – use of emotional facial expression recognition procedures in conjunction with eye tracking and use of personality inventories.

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Administrative and access information

Date of release:
First edition: 16 January 2017
Latest edition: 16 January 2017 (minor amendments only)
Copyright: Ian Mitchell, University of Birmingham
Availability: UK Data Service
Contact: Ian Mitchell, University of Birmingham


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