Keyword: cognitive distortion

Maruna, Shadd, & Mann Ruth E.; Quotes from: A fundamental attribution error? Rethinking cognitive distortions; 37 pp
The notion of ‘cognitive distortion’ has become enshrined in the offender treatment literature over the last 20 years, yet the concept still suffers from a lack of de?nitional clarity.
Treatment programmes for offenders often aim to eliminate excuse-making as a primary aim, and decision-makers place great weight on the degree to which an offender “takes responsibility” for his or her offending.
Yet, the relationship between these after-the-fact explanations and future crime is not at all clear. Indeed, the designation of post hoc excuses as criminogenic may itself be an example of fallacious thinking.
Maruna, Shadd, & Mann Ruth E.; A fundamental attribution error? Rethinking cognitive distortions; Legal and Criminological Psychology; 11, 155-177
The notion of ‘cognitive distortion’ has become enshrined in the offender treatment literature over the last 20 years, yet the concept still suffers from a lack of de?nitional clarity. In particular, the umbrella term is often used to refer to offence-supportive attitudes, cognitive processing during an offence sequence, as well as post-hoc neutralisations or excuses for offending. Of these very different processes, the last one might be the most popular and problematic. Treatment programmes for offenders often aim to eliminate excuse-making as a primary aim, and decision-makers place great weight on the degree to which an offender “takes responsibility” for his or her offending. Yet, the relationship between these after-the-fact explanations and future crime is not at all clear. Indeed, the designation of post hoc excuses as criminogenic may itself be an example of fallacious thinking. After all, outside of the criminal context, post hoc excuse-making is widely viewed as normal, healthy, and socially rewarded behaviour. We argue that the open exploration of contextual risk factors leading to offending can help in the identi?cation of criminogenic factors as well as strengthen the therapeutic experience. Rather than insist that offenders take “responsibility” for the past, we suggest that efforts should focus on helping them take responsibility for the future, shifting the therapeutic focus from post hoc excuses to offence-supportive attitudes and underlying cognitive schemas that are empirically linked to re-offending.