Craig and Ross publish new study

A new study has just been published in Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research & Treatment by FCRG members Craig Harper and Dr Ross Bartels, entitled “Implicit Theories and Offender Representativeness in Judgments About Sexual Crime“.

Using a sample of 252 community participants, the paper examines the interacting effect of implicit theories about sexual offenders and offender type (i.e., adult male; adult female; or male juvenile) on judgements of moral character and sentencing. The results showed that people with an entity implicit theory about sexual offenders (i.e., believing they cannot change) held more negative attitudes towards sexual offenders than did those with incremental implicit theories (believing sex offenders change).

Moreover, compared with those with an incremental implicit theory of sexual offenders, entity theorists judged sexual offending to be: (a) more indicative of the perpetrator’s moral character; and (b) more deserving of punishment. However, these scores were greater in relation to the adult male offender than the adult female and juvenile offender. Finally, a greater number of participants with an entity implicit theory provided dispositional explanations for the perpetrator’s offending behaviour than did the incrementalists, who provided more situational explanations.

The study indicates that implicit theories about sexual offenders affect judgements about sexual offenders, although for entitists, this is moderated by whether the case they are judging is representative of a stereotypical sexual offender.

For more information, please contact with Craig Harper at or Dr Ross Bartels at

FCRG & students present at DFP conference

Recently, on the 14-16th June, FCRG members Todd Hogue, Ross Bartels, Lauren Mumby, and Craig Harper, along with ex-MSc student Chloe Slater, current MSc student (Ryan Hesp), and two finishing undergraduate students (Bethany Browne and Jessica Mabbott) all attended and presented at the BPS’ Division of Forensic Psychology conference in Brighton.

On the first day, Ross and Chloe (and colleague Dr Geraldine Akerman from HMP Grendon) presented in a symposium entitled “Future Directions in the Treatment of Sexual Fantasies” organised by Ross and chaired by keynote speaker Prof. Tony Beech. Ross discussed his Dual-Process Model of Sexual Thinking and how it can inform treatment of sexual offenders’ sexual fantasies, while Chloe discussed the results of her MSc research (see image below left), showing that an eye-movement task holds promise as a treatment strategy for sexual fantasies. Geraldine discussed the development & efficacy of her Fantasy Modification Programme. Later during the poster session, Ryan Hesp presented his results on his Voyeuristic Behaviour Proclivity Scale (see image below right).

Chloe DFP     Ryan DFP

On the second day, Todd (with Bethany and Jessica), Craig, and Ross presented in a symposium entitled “Understanding Punitive Attitudes and Judgements about Sexual Offenders” organised and chaired by Craig (see image). First, Ross discussed the results of a new study on implicit theories and judgements of sexual crime (see here for an FCRG post on this paper). Bethany and Jessica, along with Todd, presented research using the CAPP to examine stigma towards different offender types. Craig reported results from a study currently under review showing how a humanising narrative-based intervention can reduce negative implicit and explicit evaluations of paedophiles. Later in the day, Lauren gave a talk on the needs of people entering prison custody from court (see image right).

FCRG DFP     Lauren DFP

The conference overall was an excellent event – with great keynotes, symposia, and posters.

FCRG speak at HMP Whatton Conference

Yesterday (08/06/16), four members of the FCRG (Dr Ross Bartels, Charlotte Wesson, Prof Todd Hogue, and Craig Harper) spoke at the 2016 HMP Whatton conference. The conference was held in the prison grounds and saw a full-house of professionals (from various backgrounds) attend, making for a buzzing and interactive atmosphere. A number of speakers (including researchers, clinicians, and those who engage in both research and practice) presented talks on various topics pertinent to the understanding and assessment/treatment of sexual offenders.

Dr Ross Bartels and Charlotte Wesson talked about “Measuring Sexual Interest” – providing an overview of the strengths and limitations of existing methods, before introducing and presenting data on some newer indirect measures that they currently testing. These included: the Go/No-Go Association Task; Mousetracking; and an avoid-approach task administered via tablet technology.

Prof Todd Hogue and Craig Harper discussed research on attitudes towards sexual offenders, highlighting how they may impact on professional practice; an the important issue that has received little attention. Craig presented data showing that, when under cognitive load, people tend to rely on sexual offender stereotypes/schemas when forming judgements about a sexual offence case.

The conference also included: Lawrence Jones (Rampton Hospital) who discussed some fascinating ideas about trauma and sexual offending; Dr Steven Gillespie (Newcastle University) who talked about female who have sexually offended, offering new empirical results; Lynsey Regan (HMP Whatton) who highlighted important factors that must be taken into account when working with autistic sexual offenders; and Prof. Belinda Winder and Dr Lucy Betts (Nottingham Trent University) who discussed childhood bullying and sexual offending.

The conference was a very enjoyable event, providing excellent opportunities for networking and very interesting presentations. The lunch spread was also delicious!!

Dr Merdian & colleagues publish new paper on CSEM users

We are pleased to announce that FCRG members Dr Hannah Merdian, Dr Nima Moghaddam, and Dr Dave Dawson (in conjunction with numerous other external co-authors) have just had a new paper published in Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment.

Using a sample of 68 offenders, the study had two core goals: (1) to determine whether the offending profile of ‘child sexual exploitation material offenders’ (CSEMOs) is distinct to contact child sexual offenders (CSOs); and (2) to investigate whether distinct subgroups of CSEM users can be empirically differentiated.

Using numerical and spatial methods of data analysis on a variety of clinical and risk-related variables, the results supported the dichotomous distinction between fantasy-driven versus contact-driven CSEM offending. Further analyses identified three dimensions as crucial for the classification of these two subgroups: (a) direct sexual contact with a minor; (b) possession of fantasy-generating material, and (c) social contact with other users that have a sexual interest in minors. This study offers important new insights into the understanding the risks and needs of CSEM users.

Citation: Hannah L. Merdian, Nima Moghaddam, Douglas P. Boer, Nick Wilson, Jo Thakker, Cate Curtis, and Dave Dawson (2016). Fantasy-Driven Versus Contact-Driven Users of Child Sexual Exploitation Material: Offender Classification and Implications for Their Risk AssessmentSexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment. doi:10.1177/1079063216641109

Craig Harper writes article for PsyPAG Quarterly

Last year, FCRG member and PhD student, Craig Harper, won the Rising Researcher Award that was given out by the Psychology Postgraduate Affairs Group (PsyPAG) at their 30th Annual Conference in Glasgow. Craig has also been the Forensic Psychology representative for PsyPAG for the past couple of years.

As a PsyPAG award winner and rep, Craig has contributed to the latest issue of PsyPAG’s publication in the form of a discussion paper entitled “How can social psychology help us better understand political orientations?

In this piece, Craig examines some of the major social psychological theories that contribute to our understanding of political orientations, before looking more specifically at some of the work that he has conducted in this area. To read the article, please click on this link  (nb: Craig’s article starts on p.34)

We look forward to seeing more interesting publications from Craig in the future!