The Criminal Narrative Experience (CNE) is a relatively new phenomenon, which has gained significant momentum in recent years. The framework combines the emotions and narrative roles experienced by the offender during the commission of their offence to develop themes. Through the analysis of 120 offender statement, Ioannou, Canter and Youngs (2017) proposed the following themes of the Criminal Narrative Experience; The Elated Hero, The Calm Professional, The Distressed Revenger and The Depressed Victim. These titles were created following the grouping of emotions and narrative roles within Smallest Space Analysis plots. Whilst the Criminal Narrative Experience framework has since gained support from research within various offending samples, there has been little attention paid to the differences in themes across various offence types. There has also been little attention paid to what individual factors correlate with the CNE themes suggested. As a result, the current study aims to explore The Criminal Narrative Experience within a sample of sexual and acquisitive offenders, before examining the individual differences which correlate with the various CNE themes. These individual differences include; personality, criminal thinking, psychopathy, guilt and shame.
Seventy-three adult male offenders took part in the current study. The sample was collected at a prison within the North West of England between September 2016 and May 2017.The participants were required to complete a nine-part self-report questionnaire, which examined the key elements of their offence, what emotions they experienced during their offending and also what narrative roles they could relate to, before moving on to explore personality traits, criminal thinking, psychopathy, shame prone-ness and guilt. The data collected was first subject to Smallest Space Analysis (SSA) to examine the relationship between each of the variables within the Emotions Statements questionnaire (Ioannou, 2001) and the Narrative Roles questionnaire (Youngs and Canter, 2012), before several correlational analysis was applied to the individual differences and the Criminal Narrative Themes discovered.
The data analysis took place in two parts, part one aimed to explore the emotions, narrative roles and ultimately Criminal Narrative Experience (CNE) within the two samples of offenders. Whilst part two aimed to explore the correlates of the CNE themes. The results from part one of the analysis found evidence for a two theme Criminal Narrative Experience model for both sexual, and acquisitive offenders. The themes were titled: The Dejected Revenger-Victim and The Intrepid Professional-Adventurer, due to the presence of similar emotions and narrative roles. Part two of the analysis discovered several significant correlations between the two CNE themes across both offending groups.
The findings from the current study provide support for early research which established a link between emotion and narrative role during offending (Ioannou, 2001, 2006; Ioannou, Canter, Youngs and Synnott, 2015; Ioannou, Canter and Youngs, 2017). Whilst the theoretical model of the Criminal Narrative Experience is evidenced, there is a difference in the themes generated. Rather than a four-factor model, the current study only found evidence for two themes of offending: The Dejected Revenger-Victim and The Intrepid Revenger-Victim.
The implications of the current study stretch further than theorical and methodological concerns and apply to the Criminal Justice field. The findings of the current study are particularly poignant for therapists and treatment managers, who may be providing intervention to groups of sexual and acquisitive offenders. It is key from the findings, that an individualistic approach is needed to the treatment of offenders with similar crime types.
To enhance the findings of this pioneering study, future researchers should aim to capture a wider sample, should adopt more advanced statistics to part two of the analysis, and should consider exploring emotions and narrative roles at a deeper level, considering the benefit that qualitative analysis may bring. By overcoming these limitations through future research, the field will continue to grow, and the Criminal Narrative Framework could provide a rich, and meaningful exploration of offending, from the eyes of the offender himself.
|Date of Award||2023|
|Supervisor||Maria Ioannou (Main Supervisor) & John Synnott (Co-Supervisor)|