Dr Ross Bartels publishes new study

FCRG member – Dr Ross Bartels (along with associate member Dr Craig Harper) – have just had a new paper published in the Journal of Sexual Aggression entitled “The influence of implicit theories and offender characteristics on judgements of sexual offenders: A moderated-mediation analysis”. 

Negative attitudes towards sexual offenders are typically related to harsher policy judgements (e.g., perceiving sexual offenders as deserving very harsh punishments). This new study extends this line of research by examining two factors that affect people’s judgements of sexual offenders; namely, the representativeness heuristic (i.e., how much the sex offender in a particular case matches the stereotype of a sex offender) and implicit theories about sexual offenders (i.e., the extent to which people believe perpetrators of sexual offences are fixed in their ways).

Using a sample of 252 community participants, Harper and Bartels found that the relationship between attitudes towards sexual offenders and policy judgements were mediated by implicit theories about sexual offenders (i.e., the relationship was stronger the more participants believed sex offenders cannot change). However, the mediation effect was moderated by the type of child sex offender they were judging. That is, no mediation effect was found when the case involved an adult female or a male juvenile perpetrator. From this, the authors argue that the relationship between attitudes and policy judgements is contingent on the activation of a ‘sexual offender stereotype’, but that this link can be disrupted if presented with a non-stereotypical case.

The journal has allowed for 50 free reads of the paper – which can be found by clicking here

FCRG present at the 2016 ATSA conference

Early this month (2-5th Nov), Prof. Todd Hogue and Dr Ross Bartels, along with research assistant Darragh McCashin and FCRG research associate Dr Craig Harper, presented at the 2016 conference of the Association of the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA) in Orlando, FL,  (USA).

Todd (ATSA 2016)


Todd spoke about the importance of attitudes towards sexual offenders in the context of clinical practice.



Ross (ATSA 2016)


Ross’s presented twos talks: (1) on the relationship between ‘Rich Fantasy Life’ (i.e. fantasy proneness, dissociation, & vivid mental imagery) and the use of aggressive sexual fantasies in males; and (2) on an interview study examining implicit theories of child sexual exploitation material users.


Darragh (ATSA 2016)


Darragh presented the work of PhD student Danielle Kettlebourough (as she unfortunately could not attend). The topic concerned desistance and protective factors associated with child sexual exploitation material offending.


Craig (ATSA 2016)


Craig presented two talks, both related to the psychological factors that influence attitudes towards sexual offenders. Craig also took part in an invited discussion panel with other notable figures in the field (see image) pertaining to the 2014 documentary entitled ‘Pervert Park’


It was an extremely good ATSA this year! Not only was it set in DisneyWorld (!) – with lovely weather – but the keynote talks were cutting-edge and very thought-provoking, and the breakout sessions were varied and packed with useful new ideas, findings, and extensions of current understandings related to the field of sexual offending. The FCRG team each received fantastic feedback for their presentations, fostered new research collaborations, and furthered existing ones.

The team are now looking to next year’s ATSA conference in Kansas City!!

FCRG members contribute to new book on sexual offending

Last week, a new book on sexual offending (containing three volumes) was published. The work, entitled “The Wiley Handbook on the Theories, Assessment, and Treatment of Sexual Offending”, is the result of a large project involving 6 editors across 3 volumes (Vol 1. on Theory was edited by Tony Beech & Tony Ward;  Vol 2. on Assessment by Leam Craig & Martin Rettenberger; and Vol 3. on Treatment by Bill Marshall & Liam Marshall), and 1 overseeing editor (Douglas Boer) who brought all the volumes (including over 80 chapters) together.

We are happy to say that three members of the FCRG contributed to three chapters!

First, Dr Ross Bartels (along with Tony Beech) have a chapter on ‘Theories of Deviant Sexual Fantasy’ in Volume 1 (Theory). This marks one of the only existing publications that consolidates the existing literature pertaining to the theoretical underpinnings of deviant sexual fantasies (and also includes the authors’ new model – the ‘Dual-Process Model of Sexual Thinking’).

Second, Ross also contributed another chapter (along with Nicola Gray and Robert Snowden) entitled ‘Indirect Measures of Deviant Sexual Interest’ (in Vol.2 on Assessment). The chapter provides a review of studies that use response-latency measures of deviant sexual interest. While many studies are being frequently published in this area, the chapter provides researchers, clinicians, & other forensic professionals with a general overview of the field.

Third, Prof. Todd Hogue and Charlotte Wesson (along with Prof. Derek Perkins) have contributed a chapter entitled ‘Eye-tracking and assessing sexual interest in forensic contexts to Vol. 2 (Assessment). The chapter focuses a relatively new method of assessing sexual interest (both typical and atypical) – eye-tracking. Todd and Charlotte review the existing studies, concluding that it holds promise as a reliable and hard-to-fake assessment tool.

For more about the book – click here

New publications from Hannah Merdian & Danielle Kettleborough

Good news!

PhD student Danielle Kettleborough and her supervisor Dr Hannah Merdian have had a paper published in the Journal of Sexual Aggression. The paper is entitled “Gateway to offending behaviour: permission-giving thoughts of online users of child sexual exploitation material” and involved thematically analysing the views of 16 forensic professionals regarding their views on the thinking patterns of child sexual exploitation material (CSEM) users. Four overarching themes were identified. (1) Perceived Nature of Children (perception of children portrayed in CSEM, as well as children in general), (2) Non-sexual Engagement with CSEM (motivating factors that are not inherently sexual in nature), (3) Denial of Harm (perception of the level of harm caused by CSEM), and (4) Expression of a General Sexual Preference (general interest in deviant sexual behaviour). Danielle and Hannah discuss the important implication that this study offers, including theoretical insight (e.g., differences between CSEM subtypes) and practical utility (e.g., moving towards developing a scale). The article can be found here

Hannah Merdian has also had another paper published (in Psychology, Crime, & Law) along with two of her ex-MSc students (Rebecca Crookes & Charlotte Hassett). The paper is entitled ” ‘So what about the stories?’ An exploratory study of the definition, use, and function of Narrative Child Sexual Exploitation Material”. It reports a study on a topic that has received very little attention in the field; namely, CSEM that is narrative-based (i.e., non-visual) or N-CSEM. In an attempt to define and conceptualise N-CSEM, the authors interviewed 11 professionals who had worked with N-CSEM users. Using thematic analysis with the interview data, 3 overarching themes emerged with regards to N-CSEM: (1) conceptual and legal definitions; (2) considering harm of N-CSEM; and (3) function of N-CSEM. As the authors state, “the study provides insight into N-CSEM as a separate entity from visual CSEM, challenging and informing legal decision-making and assessment and treatment providers for users of CSEM”. The study also provides researches with a base from which to begin exploring N-CSEM more deeply. The article can found here


New publication from Dr Adrian Parke!

A new paper has just been published by FCRG member – Dr Adrian Parke (in conjunction with colleagues at Nottingham Trent University) – in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction.

An Open Access version can found here.

Drawing upon the academic literature on how emotions can affect decision-making, the paper discusses the idea of using positive emotions (e.g., positively framed messages) to help people stop gambling. The article offers scientifically sound ideas that can be tested experimentally and which may contribute to the development of useful strategies for reducing problem-gambling.

The reference for the paper is below:

Harris, A., Parke, A. & Griffiths, M.D. (2016). The Case for Using Personally Relevant and Emotionally Stimulating Gambling Messages as a Gambling Harm-Minimisation Strategy. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, (online first), 1-10. doi: 10.1007/s11469-016-9698-7