Tony Ward and Anthony Beech
This essay focuses on four core issues and their normative implications associated with the “theory problem” as it relates to sexual offending. First, a critical task is to build multi-level and interfield theories that are directly responsive to the complex nature of human functioning and psychological architecture. Second, an important cognitive task is to take seriously the level of human agency and mental state psychological explanations of action. This requires accepting the significance of values and personal meanings, and appreciating that social and cultural practices causally influence a person’s sense of self and purpose in life. Third, we need to shift our attention from construct validity procedures and look to understand underlying causal processes. A preoccupation with measurement may trap us into surface-level explanations. Finally, some degree of integration should be attempted between research and conceptual work on dynamic risk factors and that on aetiological theories.