Social cognition in intellectually disabled male criminal offenders: a deficit in affect perception?
Robertson, John P.
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Purpose Although intellectual disability (ID) and criminal offending have long been associated, the nature of this link is obfuscated by reliance on historically unrigorous means of assessing ID and fractionating social cognitive skills. The purpose of this paper is to review and report current findings and set an agenda for future research in social perception, social inference and social problem solving in ID violent offenders.Design/methodology/approach The literature is reviewed on comorbidity of criminal offending and ID, and on social cognitive impairment and ID offending. In an exploratory case-control series comprising six violent offenders with ID and five similarly able controls, emotion recognition and social inference are assessed by the Awareness of Social Inference Test and social problem-solving ability and style by an adapted Social Problem-Solving Inventory.Findings Violent offenders recognised all emotions except “anxious”. Further, while offenders could interpret and integrate wider contextual cues, absent such cues offenders were less able to use paralinguistic cues (e.g. emotional tone) to infer speakers’ feelings.