Negative relating styles of learning-disabled and non-learning-disabled offenders
journal contributionposted on 07.02.2017, 13:59 by Rachel Craven, Matthew J. Tonkin
Understanding the relating style of offenders is a relatively new concept in forensic psychology with research focusing on the association between relating and different categories of offenders (Newberry & Birtchnell, 2011). ‘Relating theory’ is based on the premise that we are born with a predisposition to relate to others in eight primary ways, and with maturity we can achieve a competent relating style. These eight positions incorporate the four key relating objectives of ‘upperness’, ‘lowerness’, ‘closeness’ and ‘distance’ that form the basis of the interpersonal octagon. The interpersonal octagon is organised around two intersecting axes: ‘close’ versus ‘distant’ on the horizontal axis, and ‘upper’ versus ‘lower’ on the vertical axis. A blend of the horizontal and vertical states create four intermediate positions completing the octagon. ‘Close’ is an interactional process of seeking closeness with the desire to gain greater involvement with others, whilst individuals with a ‘distant’ relating style have a need for separation and self-efficacy (Birtchnell, 1994). ‘Upper’ is a multifaceted relating objective that allows an individual to gain a sense of superiority in relation to others, versus ‘lower’ where the individual has a dependent relating style (Birtchnell, 1994). A relating style that lacks versatility and competence is known as negative relating.