Exploring the impact of sex and offence history on moral reasoning in adults with mild intellectual disabilities.

Mcdermott, Emily (2012) Exploring the impact of sex and offence history on moral reasoning in adults with mild intellectual disabilities. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

Background: There is a small growing body of literature exploring moral
reasoning in adult male offenders with mild intellectual disabilities (ID). These
offenders have demonstrated more mature moral reasoning than their non-offending
counterparts. No published studies have explored this in females with ID, despite the
existence of sex differences in moral reasoning being widely debated. This study aims
to address this gap in the literature.
Methods: Using a cross-sectional 2 (Sex: Men vs Women) X 2 (Offence history:
Offenders vs Non-Offenders) between-subjects design, 68 adults with mild ID from
secure settings and community settings were recruited. In addition to an assessment of
intellectual functioning, participants completed the Socio-Moral Reflection Measure-
Short Form (SRM-SF; Gibbs, Basinger & Fuller, 1992) and the Emotional Problem
Scale (EPS; Prout & Strohmer, 1991). An informant version of the EPS was also used.
Results: Offenders with ID demonstrated stage 2(3) reasoning, significantly
higher than the stage 2 reasoning demonstrated by non-offenders. Offenders’ moral
reasoning was higher on six of the individual SRM-SF constructs, however differences
disappeared on two constructs after controlling for Full Scale IQ. Non-offenders
reasoned below stage 2 on the Law and Legal Justice constructs, where decision making
driven by obeying authority and avoiding punishment was likely to have prevented
them offending. No significant sex differences were found. Total SRM-SF scores were
not significantly related to offence severity. A significant positive relationship was
found between moral reasoning and emotional/behavioural problems, with the study
partially supporting the prediction that offenders would have higher EPS scores.
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Conclusions: Offenders, irrespective of sex, engaged in more mature moral
reasoning than non-offenders, supporting previous findings. This study attempted to
address methodological limitations of previous studies, such as through using a measure
standardised for ID. Further research would be valuable to help develop suitable and
effective interventions for this client group.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
Depositing User: Mia Reeves
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2012 16:27
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2012 16:27
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/40582
DOI:

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