Cognitive explanations: Cognitive distortions

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  • Cognitive explanations- Cognitive distortions
    • Faulty, biased and irrational ways of thinking that mean we perceive ourselves, the world or others negatively
      • Hostile attribution bias
        • When someone automatically attributes malicious intentions on another
        • When somebody smiles at you but you think that person has negative thoughts about you
        • Criminal behaviour: most likely linked with increased levels of aggression
      • Minimalisation
        • Underplaying the consequences of an action to reduce negative emotions such as feelings of guilt
          • Can be used to explain how an offender may reduce any negative interpretations of their behaviour to accept the consequences and reduce negative emotions
        • A burglar may thin that stealing a few things from a wealthy family isn't bad because it has little effect on their lives-criminal does not feel bad
    • Evidence to support cognitive distortions: SCHONENBERG: 55 violent offenders were presented with pics of emotionally ambiguious facial expressions, when compared to a control group, they were more likely to perceive them as angry: in line with hostile attribution bias
    • Research to support minimalisation: KENNEDY found that sex offenders accounts of crimes were downplayed; suggested the victim's behaviour contributed and some denied it happened
    • HELLER worked with a group of young men who were from disadvantaged groups, they used behavioural techniques to reduce cognitive distortions, pps who attended had a 44% reduction in arrests compared to control group- real world application
    • Good as describing the criminal mind but not explaining- cognitive distortions are 'after fact', useful when predicting reoffending but not much insight into why an offender commits a crime-limited


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