Social-moral awareness and theory of mind in adult offenders who have intellectual disabilities

Sarah Hammond (Sheffield Adult Autism and Neurodevelopmental Service, Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield, UK)
Nigel Beail (South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Barnsley, UK)

Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour

ISSN: 2050-8824

Publication date: 11 September 2017

Abstract

Purpose

There has been little empirical investigation into the theoretical relationship between moral reasoning and offending in people with intellectual disabilities (ID). The purpose of this paper is to compare offending and non-offending ID groups on a new measure of social-moral awareness, and on theory of mind (ToM).

Design/methodology/approach

A between groups design was used. The scores of 21 male offenders and 21 male non-offenders, all with ID and matched for IQ, were compared on the Social-Moral Awareness Test (SMAT) and on two ToM tasks.

Findings

There was no significant difference in SMAT scores or on first- or second-order ToM tasks between offending and non-offending groups. Better ToM performance significantly predicted higher SMAT scores and non-offending groups. Better ToM performance significantly predicted higher SMAT scores.

Research limitations/implications

Results were inconsistent with previous research. Further work is required to establish the validity and theoretical underpinnings of the SMAT. Development in the measurement of ToM for people with ID is also required.

Originality/value

This is the first use of the SMAT with a population of offenders who have ID. The findings suggest caution in its use in clinical settings.

Keywords

Citation

Hammond, S. and Beail, N. (2017), "Social-moral awareness and theory of mind in adult offenders who have intellectual disabilities", Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 111-121. https://doi.org/10.1108/JIDOB-12-2016-0024

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Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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