Relationships among moral reasoning, empathy, and distorted cognitions in men with intellectual disabilities and a history of criminal offending

Peter E. Langdon, Glynis H. Murphy, Isabel C. H. Clare, Tom Steverson, Emma J. Palmer

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Eighty men, spread equally across 4 groups, were recruited, including men with and without intellectual disabilities. The men were either criminal offenders or nonoffenders. Participants completed measures of moral reasoning, empathy, and distorted cognitions. The results indicated that the moral reasoning abilities of offenders with intellectual disabilities were developmentally delayed but were still more mature than those of nonoffenders with intellectual disabilities. Offenders without intellectual disabilities had less mature moral reasoning abilities than nonoffenders without intellectual disabilities. The differences may be partially accounted for by intellectual ability. The results also indicated that the relationship between empathy and distorted cognitions was mediated by moral reasoning. The findings have implications for the use of psychological interventions with offenders with intellectual disabilities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)438-456
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011

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