Attentional bias towards positive and negative imagery amongst offenders and non-offenders with intellectual disabilities

Sadek, Susan (2014) Attentional bias towards positive and negative imagery amongst offenders and non-offenders with intellectual disabilities. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Introduction: Theories of moral reasoning, empathy and information processing have long been used to explain offending behaviour in people with intellectual disabilities (ID), and the way in which attention is allocated to stimuli is thought to be integral to developmental models of offending that incorporate these ideas (Garrigan & Langdon, In Press). The present study sought to examine empathy and attentional bias in ID offenders (IDO) and ID non-offenders (IDNO). Methods: Men with mild ID (IDO n = 34; IDNO n = 32) completed a self-report empathy measure, and an affective dot-probe task containing negative, positive, and neutral images. Reaction times (RT) to computerised trials were recorded. Results: (1) The IDO group had significantly lower empathy scores than the IDNO group; (2) within group comparisons showed that RT in the IDO group were similar across trial types, whilst the IDNO group had significantly slower RT the affective trials than neutral trials; (3) between group analysis revealed a significant group difference in attentional bias for negative-affective and global-affective stimuli (positive and negative images collapsed together); and (4) across all participants, attentional bias could not explain a significant percentage of the variance in empathy. Discussion: The findings suggest that IDO attentional allocation is unaffected by the stimuli content, whilst attention in the IDNO group is significantly biased away from negative- and global-affective information in comparison to IDO. However, attentional bias could not explain any variance in empathic abilities. The findings provide some support for the application of attentional theories of information processing to this population. Further research in people with ID could lead to the use of attentional bias paradigms as unbiased pre- and post-intervention measures, and may even have application in an intervention context, in the form of cognitive bias modification.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
Depositing User: Jackie Webb
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2014 16:13
Last Modified: 04 Nov 2014 16:13

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