We are delighted to inform readers of a new publication from members of the FCRG. The paper in question is from Dr Ross Bartels and Prof Todd Hogue (led by FCRG associate Dr Craig Harper) entitled “Reducing Stigma and Punitive Attitudes Toward Pedophiles Through Narrative Humanization” published in ‘Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment’.

This study addresses an important (and very current) topic within the literature – namely, people’s view of paedophiles. Prior research has shown that such views are highly stigmatised and punitive in nature. This view is largely due to a misunderstanding of what a paedophile is, driven by a common misconception that a paedophilic individual is a sexual offender (against children). These views can have negative consequences for paedophilic individuals who have no desire to offend, including increasing their risk of offending. As such, there is a need to find strategies that can improve these views allowing for more rational discussions of this topic, rather than purely emotion-driven responses.

In this present paper (N = 100), Harper, Bartels, and Hogue found that presenting participants with a first-person narrative stimulus (i.e., a male discussing his experiences of being a non-offending paedophile) and an informative stimulus (i.e., an expert describing what paedophilia is and is not) both led to reduced stigmatising and punitive attitudes towards paedophiles as measured via self-report questionnaires. Moreover, they found that only the former – which they termed a ‘humanised narrative’ – resulted in reduced negative views at an implicit (or automatic) level, as measured by a mousetracking task. The findings offer an important contribution to the literature on how the to address the misconceived, stigmatising views that people tend to hold towards paedophiles. We look forward to seeing how this specific area of research continues.

A pre-proof copy of the paper can be viewed here