The optimal application of empathy interventions to reduce antisocial behaviour and crime: a review of the literature

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Abstract

In recent decades, the relationship between weak empathy and the development of antisocial and offending behaviours has been well established. In the first review of its kind, this paper outlines the current implementation of empathy intervention programmes in a variety of disciplines. This paper will identify some key agents that are instrumental in empathy development and build a case to suggest that where such traditional sources of empathy development are inadequate, interventions are crucial to bridge the gap. To date, the few offender empathy interventions that have been implemented and assessed heed mixed results by crime type, sample type, gender, and empathy type. Novel, evidence-led recommendations will be made in relation to the timing, content, format, length, and location of future interventions, and the importance of the consideration of baseline empathy and individual differences will be outlined. Deficient empathy must be of central concern to criminal justice agencies and identified and addressed from infancy and throughout the life course. By using a combination of universal programmes with general populations and specific offender-targeted programmes, a holistic approach can be achieved.

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Trivedi-Bateman, N., & Crook, E. L. (2021). The optimal application of empathy interventions to reduce antisocial behaviour and crime: a review of the literature. Psychology, Crime and Law. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.1080/1068316X.2021.1962870

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