Assessment and treatment of social problem solving in offenders with intellectual disability

William R. Lindsay, Clare Hamilton, Stuart Moulton, Steve Scott, Michael Doyle, Mary McMurran

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23 Citations (Scopus)


In mainstream offender work there has been a significant amount of theory and applied research linking moral development, perspective taking and poor social problem solving to offending. Given that such deficits are likely to feature in offenders with intellectual disability (ID), it is surprising that this research has not spread to the field of ID. Study 1 employed 132 participants in an evaluation of the 25-item short form of the Social Problem Solving Inventory - Revised (SPSI-R). Study 2 describes the development of a social problem solving programme (SPORT) based on established theoretical principles, for use with offenders with ID. The SPSI-R is used to evaluate the progress through the programme of 10 participants. In Study 1 a four-factor solution emerged which corresponded to the five dimensions contained in the SPSI-R. Negative problem orientation, impulsive/careless style and rational style emerged as unitary factors while positive problem orientation and avoidant style loaded on a single factor at opposite poles. In Study 2 participants became less impulsive and more positive in their style and orientation towards social problem solving. The assessment and treatment of social problem solving may be a fruitful addition to general work with offenders with ID. Such programmes should be considered in conjunction with interventions for problems such as sexual and violent offending.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology Crime and Law
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Criminals


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