The relationship between implicit and incongruent explicit and implicit (i.e., discrepant) self-esteem, narcissism, and sexual offending against children requires further research. We examined the relationships between self-esteem, narcissism, and risk of violent (including sexual) recidivism and compared sexual offenders against children (n = 28) and non-sexual offenders (n = 44) on these measures. All participants were adult men. In both groups, greater narcissism was associated with greater risk. Among sexual offenders against children, contrary to theoretical accounts and previous research findings, higher explicit self-esteem was associated with greater risk. However, further analysis indicated that explicit self-esteem may only be relevant to recidivism risk insofar as it reflects narcissism. Neither implicit nor discrepant self-esteem were related to recidivism risk in either group. Group comparisons indicated that sexual offenders against children had lower explicit self-esteem and narcissism than non-sexual offenders. In summary, our findings suggest that although sexual offenders against children have lower explicit self-esteem and narcissism than other offenders, within this group, higher explicit self-esteem and greater narcissism may be associated with greater risk. Taken together, previous and current findings suggest that including measures of narcissism in psychological assessment batteries administered to sexual offenders against children could be beneficial. Our findings also further question the wisdom of targeting low self-esteem in correctional treatment programs aimed at reducing recidivism.

, , , ,
Archives of Sexual Behavior
Department of Psychology

Pettersen, C. (Cathrine), Nunes, K, Kostiuk, N. (Nicole), Jung, S. (Sandy), & Atlas, M. (Maya). (2019). Explicit and Implicit Self-Esteem, Narcissism, and Recidivism Risk in a Sample of Men Who Have Sexually Offended Against Children. Archives of Sexual Behavior. doi:10.1007/s10508-019-01598-6