Ross Bartels & Todd Hogue publish new paper with Craig Harper

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

Charlotte Wesson published in ‘The Quarterly’

We are very happy to inform that PhD student – Charlotte Wesson – has just had an article published in this month’s issue of The Quarterly – the official publication of the Psychology Postgraduate Affairs Group (PsyPAG). This particular issue is a Special Issue coordinated by the ‘Psychology of Sexualities Section’ of PsyPAG; of which Charlotte is the section representative.

In the article, entitled “The Fairer Sex – Literally: A Brief Review of Sexual Fluidity“, Charlotte discusses what sexual fluidity is (i.e., “the amount an individual’s sex drive can be moulded by social, situational and cultural pressures (Baumeister, 2000); Wesson, 2016, p. 34); provides an overview of the existing theories that attempt to explain sexual fluidity; and examines research on sexual fluidity in both women and men. Charlotte ends the paper with some points on why this research is important and what areas should be researched further.

To read Charlotte’s article, it can be found on page 34 of the online version of this month’s issue of The Quarterly. Click here to be taken this online version.

For further updates on Charlotte’s work, follow her on Twitter @CharWesson

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