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A controlled study of the Big Five personality dimensions in sex offenders, non-sex offenders and non-offenders: relationship with offending behaviour and childhood abuse

Juan Antonio Becerra-García, Ana García-León, José Antonio Muela-Martínez & Vincent Egan

Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology

Volume 24, Issue 2, 2013



Although personality traits such as those measured by the Five Factor Model are influenced by childhood abuse history, these associations have often been hindered by a lack of clinical controls. This study examined the independent influence of childhood abuse on the personality of sex offenders, non-sex offenders and control participants. We found Neuroticism higher in offenders generally, whereas non-sex offenders and control participants had higher Extraversion than sex offenders; Agreeableness differed between control and non-sexual offenders. Participants with abusive childhoods were higher in Neuroticism and Openness than individuals with non-abusive childhoods. This study improves on limitations of previous studies examining these questions. These findings suggest offence type is useful for differentiating offenders, and that Neuroticism and Openness traits are most influenced by a history of childhood abuse.



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