impact of emotional loneliness in offending behaviour – a qualitative and quantitative study

Exploring the underpinnings of offending behaviour, and the potential role of perceived emotional loneliness in offending.

Key details

Lead institution
Principal researcher(s)
Camille Mangelinckx
Police region
South East
Collaboration and partnership

Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire.

Level of research
Project start date
Date due for completion

Research context

The aim of this study is to explore some of the underpinnings of offending behaviour, and the potential role of perceived emotional loneliness in offending.

Emotional loneliness has already been identified as an important feature in sexual offending (Houtepen and others, 2014; Marshall and others, 2012; McCoy & Fremouw, 2010). However, there is little research available on the role of emotional loneliness in other types of offences, such as offences including violence, or non-sexual and non-violent offences. Moreover, there are few studies that have attempted to understand the relationship between emotional loneliness and other psychological factors, such as feelings of rejection, self-concept clarity, self-efficacy, and mistrust.

This research aims to examine the perceived impact of emotional loneliness in a small sample of adult male offenders (offences will include sexual, violent, non-sexual offending, and non-violent offending) (n = 8). It will also aim to gain further understanding of the inter-relationship between emotional loneliness and the different psychological factors mentioned above in a larger sample of participants (n = 30). The expectation is to identify positive correlations between these factors (which are known to play a role in offending behaviour), as well as with emotional loneliness.

Research methodology

The project will include mixed methods of qualitative and quantitative data (collected via a series of standardised questionnaires).

Interviews will take place between the principal researcher and each participant (n = 8), during face-to-face appointments. Participants will be service users with a forensic history who are accessing supportive services in the community.

Each interview is planned to last between 60 and 90 minutes. The interviews will include a set of questions forming a semi-structured questionnaire, during which set questions will be asked of participants that they can answer freely. The questions will focus on the participant’s forensic background and social difficulties the participant may have experienced prior and/or during their offences.

The format of the interview, collection of data, and analysing of the data will be aligned with Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Alongside the collection of qualitative data, quantitative data will also be collected through standardised questionnaires and with a larger sample of participants (N = 30 +, with the sample already including the participants taking part in the qualitative study).

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