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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Assessing the implicit theories and motivations of rapists, pedophilic child molesters, and mixed offenders Bennett, Andrea Heather


The criminal files of 101 high-risk recidivating rapists, pedophilic child molesters, and mixed offenders were subjected to grounded theory analysis. Seven implicit theories (ITs) of Ward’s (2000) Implicit Theory Model (ITM) that underlie the beliefs, desires, and motives for sexual offending were identified: (a) uncontrollability, (b) entitlement, (c) women as sexual objects, (d) women are dangerous, (e) children as sexual beings, (f) nature of harm, and (g) dangerous world comprised of Factor 1 (revenge) and Factor 2 (children are trustworthy companions). Chi-square analyses further revealed that all sexual offender types held strong feelings of entitlement, rapists and mixed offenders shared similar prevalence rates for the women as sexual objects IT, and pedophilic child molesters and mixed offenders held similar prevalence rates for the uncontrollability and nature of harm ITs. Multinomial logistic regression (MLR) analyses also showed that although rapists were more likely to believe that women were dangerous, and pedophiles were more likely to believe that children were sexual beings, the ITM is more accurate at classifying sexual offenders who do not hold these ITs, indicating the model’s strong specificity. Finally, grounded theory revealed that the ITs of the ITM clustered into four motivations to sexually offend: (a) sexual, (b) aggressive, (c) sadistic and (d) intimacy. Rapists were found to be the most sadistically motivated, whereas mixed offenders were predominantly sexually motivated, and pedophilic child molesters were largely driven by a need for intimacy. The implications for treatment, predicting risk for sexual recidivism, and the ITM’s utility in assisting in offender profiling techniques are discussed.

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