The Role of Cognitive Distortions in Maintaining the Pattern of Sexual Violence



Distorted judgments supporting commitment of criminal sexual acts are widely used in persons with abnormal sexual behavior and considered by foreign researchers as one of the dynamic risk factors of relapse of sexual crimes against minors. The submitted article is an analytical review of the main foreign research papers on the problem of cognitive distortions in sexual offenders. Various attempts to conceptualize and categorize cognitive distortions are presented with their theoretical and empirical verification, structural characteristics and some features of the development of such distorted judgements. The self-report questionnaires are mainly used in foreign studies of cognitive distortions, also samples of sexual offenders are studied include both persons with sexual disorders and situational offenders. The article shows the necessity of distinguishing between prior and posterior cognitive distortions, as well as self-justification inherent in human nature and distorted judgements that contribute to the commission of criminal acts. It has been suggested that the assessment of cognitive distortions should be carried out not only by unified questionnaires, but using a phenomenological analysis of situational behavior and a retrospective analysis of criminal’s beliefs before the latter committed the incriminated act.

General Information

Keywords: cognitive distortion, prejudice, self-justification, subjective experience, adaptation, abnormal sexual behavior

Journal rubric: Medical Psychology

Article type: review article


Received: 22.07.2022


For citation: Demidova L.Y. The Role of Cognitive Distortions in Maintaining the Pattern of Sexual Violence [Elektronnyi resurs]. Sovremennaia zarubezhnaia psikhologiia = Journal of Modern Foreign Psychology, 2023. Vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 89–99. DOI: 10.17759/jmfp.2023120110. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Liubov Y. Demidova, PhD in Psychology, Senior Researcher of the Laboratory of Forensic Sexology, V.P. Serbsky National Medical Research Centre for Psychiatry and Narcology of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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