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Attachment and theory of mind in young offenders

Mundy, Sarah; (2004) Attachment and theory of mind in young offenders. Doctoral thesis (D.Clin.Psy), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Attachment and theory of mind are two risk factors that are thought to contribute to the development of conduct problems. However, little is known about the potential link between attachment, theory of mind and antisocial behaviour. Recent theoretical models suggest that insecure attachment hinders the development of mentalising abilities, which, in turn, increases the likelihood of offending (Fonagy, Target, Steele, & Steele, 1997a). This research considers the application of this model to a population of adolescent offenders by comparing a group of young male offenders with a group of non-offending peers on theory of mind and attachment measures. Empirical support was found for a relationship between attachment, theory of mind and offending. Significant group differences indicated that offenders have higher levels of insecure attachment and poorer theory of mind abilities than non-offenders. Moreover, adolescents who reported more trusting relationships with parents showed lower levels of conduct problems. Further analysis revealed that more secure attachment and better communication with parents were related to superior theory of mind abilities. Ethnicity also seemed to have an impact on attachment, with white participants reporting more secure attachment than individuals from other ethnic groups. This study highlighted a particular need for further research into theory of mind in adolescence as well as into the relationship between attachment and ethnicity. The results also provide support for treatments with adolescents with conduct problems that use multi-systemic interventions that focus both on family and individual factors.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: D.Clin.Psy
Title: Attachment and theory of mind in young offenders
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10097675
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