Cognitive Distortions as a Factor Used in Assessing the Risk of Unlawful Sexual Conduct towards Minors



The article reviews the current scientific literature, mostly foreign, on the problem of assessing cognitive distortions as a risk factor for committing sexual unlawful acts against minors. The risk factors of developing the delinquent behavior in general as well as factors specific to the individuals who had committed sexual delicts are described. The content of the cognitive sphere, offenders’ views about the victim and interpretations of behavior and beliefs of the victim are especially addressed. The causes of formation of negative attitudes to sexuality, the classification of cognitive distortions and specificity of such distortions in the different groups of offenders are presented. The methodology used to assess the severity of cognitive distortions, their range of application and some limitations in interpreting the findings are discussed. The problem of psycho-correctional and psychotherapeutic work with individuals who had committed sexual delicts is outlined: types of therapy and advantages and disadvantages of different approaches are listed; the appropriateness of therapy in dealing with sex offenders is discussed.

General Information

Keywords: risk factors, delinquent sexual behavior, personality of a sexual offender, sexual abuse of children, cognitive distortions.

Journal rubric: Juridical Psychology

Article type: scientific article

For citation: Serov A.D., Syrokvashina K.V. Cognitive Distortions as a Factor Used in Assessing the Risk of Unlawful Sexual Conduct towards Minors [Elektronnyi resurs]. Psikhologicheskaya nauka i obrazovanie [Psychological Science and Education], 2011. Vol. 3, no. 1 (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Alexander D. Serov, Post-graduate Student of the Department of Legal Psychology of the Faculty of Legal Psychology, Moscow City Psychological Pedagogical University, Moscow, Russia, e-mail:

Ksenia V. Syrokvashina, PhD in Psychology, Associate Professor, Associate Professor, Senior Researcher at the Laboratory of Child and Adolescent Psychology, V.P. Serbsky National Medical Research Center of Psychiatry and Narcology of the Ministry of Health of Russia, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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