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Empathy and Offending

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Overview

Empathy is an individual difference that has been theoretically linked with an increased likelihood of offending, particularly serious offending. In contrast to the strong theoretical relationship, however, the empirical evidence of the relationship between empathy and offending is lacking. This is problematic as many offender treatment programs are designed to address this supposed “lack of empathy.” In order to further knowledge about empathy and offending, the measurement of empathy should be improved and studies should attempt to use more sensitive measures of offending (e.g., self-reports). Prospective longitudinal studies are needed to establish whether a lack of empathy is a correlate, a risk factor, or a causal risk factor for offending. Only if empathy is the latter would empathy enhancement be expected to reduce the likelihood of future offending.

Introduction

Empathy is an elusive construct, and as a result, clarifying its association with offending has challenged...

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Correspondence to Darrick Jolliffe .

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Jolliffe, D. (2014). Empathy and Offending. In: Bruinsma, G., Weisburd, D. (eds) Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5690-2_508

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