Empathic capacity of delinquent convicted minors Cover Image

Empathic capacity of delinquent convicted minors
Empathic capacity of delinquent convicted minors

Author(s): Sonja Milojević, Aleksandar Dimitrijević
Subject(s): Cognitive Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Neuropsychology, Personality Psychology, Clinical psychology, Criminology
Published by: Društvo psihologa Srbije
Keywords: juvenile delinquency; cognitive and affective empathy; distress; mentalization;

Summary/Abstract: The psychological approach to juvenile delinquency introduced in recent years postulates “empathy impairment” as one of the origins of youth criminal behaviour. This means that in order to be cruel, people need to be unable to imagine the pain their victims experience. To test that hypothesis, we compare a group of convicted juvenile offenders (N=43) with a control group of adolescents (N=47) on self-report and ability measures of cognitive empathy (Interpersonal Reactivity Index and Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test, respectively). Discriminant Analysis reveals a significant difference between the two groups, most notably in the dimensions of personal distress, RMET score, and perspective taking. However, after the control for age and education, only the differences in measures of cognitive empathy remain. Although delinquents perceive themselves as less capable of taking the vantage point of another person and, when tested, prove themselves to be inferior in perceiving emotions and facial expressions, there are no differences in self-report scores of the affective component of empathy. On the basis of these findings, we draw several practical implications concerning everyday work with delinquents.

  • Issue Year: 47/2014
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 65-79
  • Page Count: 15
  • Language: English