University of Leicester
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Implicit theories of paedophilia: professional and trainee/non-professional understandings of paedophilia in modern society

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posted on 2009-11-25, 11:27 authored by Kieran McCartan
Paedophilia has become a major social issue; although, there remains considerable ambiguity in how society understands and perceives this phenomenon. This thesis will investigate professionals' as well as trainee/non-professionals' implicit theories of paedophilia and their explanations for the current social outcry. This is an inter-disciplinary, mixed-design piece of research, using both qualitative and quantitative methods, with professionals' (n=28) and trainee/non-professionals' (study 1, n=601 study 2, n=188) respectively. Professional implicit theories of paedophilia were found to be fragmented with no unified definitions or understandings. Professionals' believe paedophilia to be a moral panic, caused by a number of factors (the media and changing perceptions of risk). Although, the professionals' do not believe that the general public have a good understanding of paedophilia, research with trainee/non-professionals' reveal that their implicit theories of paedophilia tend to be mixed, reflecting both, popular sensationalistic stereotypes and current professional understandings from this research as well previous research. Professionals' and trainee/non-professionals' implicit theories of paedophilia seem derived from socially constructed beliefs, not from psychological traits and/or individual differences.



Maltby, John; Bibly, Charlotte

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Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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