Offence-specific scripts among juvenile deliberate firesetters: a possible explanation for fire proclivity

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Abstract

The study employed inductive-thematic analysis to identify dynamic cognitive-emotional processes occurring in proximity to deliberate firesetting among a sample of N= 35 adjudicated juvenile firesetters. Six fire-specific themes were determined. Three of these themes are akin to an implicit theory (i.e. a belief system informed by previous experiences): Fire Interest, Fire is Controllable, and Fire Denial/Accidental. Three of these themes are consistent with a cognitive script (i.e. a behavioural guide for how and when to use fire): (a) fire is destructive; (b) fire conceals evidence; and (c) fire creates calm. When reviewed more closely, the theme ‘fire is destructive’ is composed of two separate subcategories: ‘fire creates destructive fun’ and ‘fire is a destructive tool for revenge’. The findings have risk assessment and treatment implications for juvenile firesetters.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychiatry, Psychology and Law
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2023

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