Elliott, Ian Alexander (2012)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
This thesis uses the Integrated Theory of Sexual Offending (Ward & Beech, 2006) as a framework by which to investigate the psychological characteristics of individuals who access sexually explicit material involving children on the Internet. Chapter one reviews the applicability of sex offender theory to internet offender behaviour. Chapter two compares internet and contact sex offenders on a battery of self-report assessments, finding that internet offenders demonstrated greater victim empathy, fewer offence-supportive attitudes, and greater identification with fictional characters. Chapter three compared internet, contact and mixed internet/contact offenders on the same assessments, finding that mixed offenders were more similar to internet than contact offenders, with unique problems with self-management. Chapter four examined internet-specific offence-supportive attitudes in internet offenders, finding that endorsement levels were generally low, that items related to sexual compulsivity were most frequently endorsed, and that high-frequency online sex users endorsed more sexual compulsivity items and individuals without long-term relationships endorsed more online identity items. Chapter five examined the effects of exposure to sexually-salient material on decision-making, finding that previously-reported significant effects could not be replicated and that internet offenders did not differ from non-offender controls. The results are discussed in terms of theoretical and practical implications, further research, and methodological limitations.
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