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Etude des distorsions cognitives et de leurs soubassements cognitifs dans un contexte d’agression à caractère sexuel

Abstract : When human being commits socially maladaptive behavior, they quickly seek to justify it to others and to themselves. This justification provides a new perspective on events and makes them feel less guilty. The justifications given are often erroneous and do not reflect a socially acceptable way of thinking. This type of justification is representative of distorted reality, and is commonly referred as cognitive distortions. The aim of this work is to understand these cognitive distortions and how they can explain maladaptive behavior. Sexual aggression is obviously a behavior that cannot be rationally justified, which is why six researches on cognitive distortions focused on this type of aggression. How is it possible to justify such behavior? The main explicative factors studied were personality traits, empathy and aggression. As a first step, our data suggest that a baseline exists to interpret cognitive distortions. This baseline is composed of three elements that are systematically found in all cognitive distortions: a high degree of sadism combined with strong disagreeableness and a high degree of psychopathy. Together, the appearance of cognitive distortions is more probable. This same baseline also leads to a lack of cognitive empathy which, in a context of sexual assault, can be interpreted as disregard for the victim. During the act, different types of aggression can be involved, ranging from passivity to proactive aggression. Nevertheless, these studies describe that all types of aggression are predicted by at least one cognitive distortion, which confirms the importance of investigating these erroneous justifications. In the literature, it has been shown that the same cognitive distortions are found in different sexual offenders. These justifications would indeed be representative of the same vision of the world and of the victim, shared by several individuals. These visions of the world that lead to malevolent thoughts are called implicit theories. Different implicit theories have been identified to describe the thoughts of sexual abusers about adults and children. The participation of sexual offenders in the present research makes possible to investigate these implicit theories and cognitive distortions from a cognitive perspective. Thus, recorded interviews, questionnaires and cognitive tests have been used. Based on recorded interviews, we identified 9 implicit theories that could be observed in sexual abusers, including two new ones not previously described in the literature. The first one was called "love": the person describes himself as being in love with the victim, which explains his behavior. The second is called "the bubble": the person attributes his aggression to the fact that he was in another world at the time of the acts and he was more specifically in his own bubble, disconnected from reality. The present studies also provide evidence that participants who are sexual abusers report more cognitive distortions, more dark personality traits and less cognitive empathy compared to control participants. Their recognition of other people's prosodic emotions also appears to be weaker. Their poorer scores on fear recognition could be an explanation for proactive aggression. This research as a whole confirms the recent interest for cognitive distortions in the context of sexual aggression, and provides promising results for understanding the process of acting out.
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Romain Bet. Etude des distorsions cognitives et de leurs soubassements cognitifs dans un contexte d’agression à caractère sexuel. Psychologie. Université de Lyon, 2021. Français. ⟨NNT : 2021LYSE2012⟩. ⟨tel-03276136⟩

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