Cognitive and affective components of interpersonal interaction in patients with abnormal sexual behavior



We discuss the problem of interpersonal interaction in the perpetrators of sexual crimes against children. The purpose of the study was to examine the abilities evolved as important factors of interpersonal interaction disorders and of sexual crime predictors: decentration, identification and recognition of emotions and empathy. The experimental study sample comprised 26 people who have committed sexual offenses against children and held stationary comprehensive examination on the basis of V.P. Serbskiy State Research Center of Social and Forensic Psychiatry (14 of them were diagnosed with pedophilia). The control group (N = 21) consisted of people who have never held criminally liable. The study showed that the greatest deficits in the studied abilities were demonstrated by the criminals without pedophilia. Individuals with pedophilia have difficulty recognizing their own and others’emotional state, but at the same time demonstrate higher rates of decentration and empathy, even in comparison with the control group.

General Information

Keywords: pedophilia, sexual crime, empathy, decentration, recognition of emotions, alexithymia

Journal rubric: Studia

Article type: scientific article


For citation: Demidova L.Y., Dvoryanchikov N.V. Cognitive and affective components of interpersonal interaction in patients with abnormal sexual behavior [Elektronnyi resurs]. Psikhologicheskaya nauka i obrazovanie [Psychological Science and Education], 2014. Vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 323–334. DOI: 10.17759/psyedu.2014060134. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


  1. Dvorianchikov N.V., Il'enko A.A., Enikolopov S.N. Osobennosti emotsional'nogo vospriiatiia u lits s deviantnym seksual'nym povedeniem [Peculiarities of emotional perception among persons with abnormal sexual behaviour]. Seksologiia i seksopatologiia [Sexology and sexual pathology], 2003. no. 4, P.17-23.
  2. Makarova T.E., Dvorianchikov N.V. Polovozrastnaia identichnost' u lits, sovershivshikh seksual'nye nasil'stvennye deistviia v otnoshenii detei [Age and gender identity in the perpetrators of sexual violence against children].  Psikhologiia i pravo [Psychology and Law], 2013. no. 4. Available at: (Accessed 26.02.2014).
  3. Makurin A.A., Bulygina V.G. Raspoznavanie emotsii u lits, sovershivshikh protivopravnye deistviia seksual'nogo kharaktera [Recognition of Emotions in People who have committed sexual unlawful acts]. Psikhologiia i pravo [Psychology and Law], 2011.  no. 3. Available at: (Accessed 26.02.2014).
  4. Nartova-Bochaver S.K., Potapova A.V. Uroven' aleksitimii kak indicator psikhologicheskoi ustoichivosti studentov tekhnicheskikh I gumanitarnykh vuzov [Level of alexithymia as an indicator of psychological stability of students of technical and humanitarian higher educational institutions]. Psikhologicheskaia nauka i obrazovanie [Psychological Science and Education], 2012. no. 3, pp.10-17.
  5. Pedofiliia: osnovnye kriminal'nye cherty: monografiia [Pedophilia: basic criminal traits: Monograph] / Antonian Iu.M., Goncharova M.V., Guseva O.N., D'iachenko A.P., Sitkovskii A.L., Tkachenko A.A., Tsymbal E.I., Chuchaev A.I.; pod red. Iu.M. Antoniana. Moscow: Prospekt, 2012. 304 p.
  6. Radchenko N.A. Kliniko-sotsial'naia kharakteristika i sudebno-psikhiatricheskaia otsenka lits, sovershivshikh protivopravnye seksual'nye deistviia v otnoshenii nesovershennoletnikh [Clinico-social characteristics and forensic psychiatric assessment of persons who have committed illegal sexual acts with minors]. Diss… Moscow, 2002. 270 p.
  7. Tkatchenko A.A., Vvedensky G.E., Dvoryantchikov N.V. Sudebnaia seksologiia [Forensic Sexology]. Moscow: Medicina, 2001. 560 p.
  8. Entsiklopediia ugolovnogo prava [Encyclopedia of criminal law]. Vol. 15. Prestupleniia protiv polovoi neprikosnovennosti i polovoi svobody lichnosti [Crimes against sexual inviolability and sexual freedom]. Saint Petersburg: Izdanie professora Malinina – SPb GKA, 2011. 582 p.
  9. Briere J.N.. Child abuse trauma. Theory and treatment of the lasting effects. CA, Newburypark: Sage, 1992. 224 p.
  10. Deigh J. Empathy and universalizability // Ethics. 1995. Vol. 105. no. 4, pp. 743-763.
  11. Feldmanhall O., Dalgleish T., Mobbs D. Alexithymia decreases altruism in real social decisions [Electronic resource] // Cortex. 2012. Vol. 49. no. 3, pp. 899-904. URL: (Accessed: 26.02.2014).
  12. Fernandez Y.M., Marshall W.L. Victim empathy, social self-esteem and psychopathy in rapists // Sexual Abuse: A Journ. of Research and Treatment. 2003. Vol. 15. no. 1, pp.11-26.
  13. Finkelhor D. Child sexual abuse: New theory and research. New York: Free Press, 1984. 304 p.
  14. Fisher D., Beech A., Browne K. Comparison of sex offenders to nonoffenders on selected psychological measures // International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology. 1999. Vol. 43, no. 4, pp. 473-491.
  15. Gery I., Miljkovitch R., Berthoz S., Soussignan R. Empathy and recognition of facial expressions of emotion in sex offenders, non-sex offenders and normal controls // Psychiatry Research. 2009. Vol. 165, no. 3, pp. 252-262.
  16. Gilgun J.F., Connor T.M. How perpetrators view child sexual abuse // Social Work. 1989. Vol. 34. no. 3, pp. 249-251.
  17. Hudson S.M., Ward T. Interpersonal competency in sex offender // Behavior Modification. 2000. Vol. 24.  no. 4, pp. 494-527.
  18. Kendall-Tackett, K. A., Williams, L. M., Finkelhor, D. (1993). Impact of sexual abuse on children: A review and synthesis of recent empirical studies // Psychological Bulletin. 1993. Vol. 113. no. 1, pp. 164-180.
  19. Kirsch L.G., Becker J.V. Emotional deficits in psychopathy and sexual sadism: implications for violent and sadistic behavior // Clinical psychology review. 2007. Vol. 27. no. 8, pp.904-922.
  20. Lamm C., Singer T. The role of anterior insular cortex in social emotions // Brain Structure & Function. 2010. Vol. 214. no. 5-6, pp. 579-591.
  21. Maltz W. The sexual healthing Journey: A guide for survivors of sexual abuse. NewYork: Quill, 2001. 368 p.
  22. Marshall W.L., Hudson S.M., Jones R., Fernandez Y.M. Empathy and sex offenders // Clinical Psychology Review. 1995. Vol. 15. no. 2, pp. 99-113.
  23. Piglia M.L., Stough C., Carter J.D., Joseph M. The emotional intelligence of adult sex offenders: Ability based EI assessment // Journal of Sexual Aggression. 2005. Vol. 11. no. 3, pp. 249-258.
  24. Pithers W.D. Empathy: Definition, enhancement and relevance to the treatment of sexual abusers // Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 1999. Vol. 14. no. 3, pp. 257-284.
  25. Scully D. Convicted repists’ preceptions of self and victim: role taking and emotions // Gender and Society. 1988. Vol. 2. no. 2, pp. 200-213.
  26. Varker T., Devilly G.J., Ward T., Beech A.R. Empathy and adolescent sexual offenders: A review of the literature // Aggression and Violent Behavior. 2008. Vol. 13. no. 4, pp. 251-260.
  27. Ward T., Beech A. An integrated theory of sexual offending // Aggression and Violent Behavior. 2005. Vol. 11. no. 1, pp. 44-63.
  28. Ward T., Keenan T., Hudson S.M. Understanding cognitive, affective, and intimacy deficits in sexual offenders: A developmental perspective // Aggression and Violent behavior. 2000. Vol. 5. no. 1, pp. 41-62.
  29. Wood E., Riggs S. Predictors of child molestation: adult attachment, cognitive distortions, and empathy // Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 2008. Vol. 23. no. 2, pp. 259-275.

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:

Nikolay V. Dvoryanchikov, PhD in Psychology, Docent, Dean, Faculty of Legal and Forensic Psychology, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



Total: 2773
Previous month: 20
Current month: 4


Total: 1243
Previous month: 7
Current month: 4