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Blame attribution and guilt feelings in violent offenders

Journal article
Authors Malte Johnsson
Benny Andersson
Märta Wallinius
Björn Hofvander
Ola Ståhlberg
Henrik Anckarsäter
Eva Billstedt
Susanna Radovic
Published in Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology
Volume 25
Issue 2
Pages 212-223
ISSN 1478-9949
Publication year 2014
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre
Centre for Ethics, Law, and Mental Health
Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science
Pages 212-223
Language en
Keywords blame; responsibility; antisocial personality disorder; psychopathy; guilt
Subject categories Theoretical philosophy, Psychology


Offenders with high psychopathic traits and/or antisocial personality disor- der (ASPD) are hypothesised to experience less guilt and less responsibil- ity for their actions than offenders without these problems. These hypotheses were tested and partly substantiated. The study investigates blame attributions and guilt feeling using Gudjonsson Blame Attribution Inventory – Revised (GBAI-R) for 177 young male violent offenders. GBAI scores were compared to ASPD and psychopathy according to the Psy- chopathy Checklist – Revised. Results showed that individuals with ASPD and those with higher degrees of psychopathy tended to report signi fi cantly less guilt and higher degree of mental control than other subjects. Another fi nding was a weak relationship between ASPD, high scores on psycho- pathic traits and external attribution. We suggest these results might be explained by admitting poor mental control may be extra dif fi cult for indi- viduals belonging to either of these groups and that the external attribution items do not separate causal from moral responsibility.

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