The theoretical linkage of empathy to sexually aggressive and antisocial behavior is reviewed, and assessment conducted on the role of emotional empathy in the non-sexual delinquent behavior of juvenile sexual offenders. In examination of developmental antecedents of empathy, self-reported parental attachment and positive fathering experiences were found to be positively associated with emotional empathy, while reported exposure to violence against females was inversely related. As hypothesized, emotional empathy was found to have both mediating and moderating influences on risk of engagement in non-sexual delinquency. Emotional empathy was found to be negatively associated with non-sexual delinquency and to partially mediate the positive influences of exposure to violence against females and hostile masculinity. Emotional empathy was also found to function as a moderator of hostile masculinity, with high empathy levels associated with an attenuated positive effect of hostile masculinity on non-sexual delinquency, and low levels with an accentuated effect. Possible mechanisms for this moderating influence are discussed, along with clinical implications of the findings and directions for future research.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Psychology
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Sociology and Political Science