Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Sensational interests are not a simple predictor of adolescent offending: Evidence from a large normal British sample

Charles, Kathy E.; Egan, Vincent


Kathy E. Charles

Vincent Egan


Anecdote and samples from extreme populations suggest military interests and ‘esoteric’ or Gothic interests (collectively referred to as sensational interests) are a predictor of offending. We examined such interests and offending in a large sample of normal British adolescents also considering other aspects of personality. Six-hundred and ninety-five participants provided data on their interests, personality, intrasexual competition, and psychopathology. These data were analysed in relation to self-reported delinquency using principal components analysis and structural equation modelling. While a small positive relationship between militarism and offending was found, this is strongly mediated by personality, with intrasexual competition and low agreeableness emerging as better predictors of delinquency than sensational interests alone. The assumption that unusual interests (e.g., those which are esoteric, ‘Gothic’ or militaristic) inevitably convey dangerousness or antisocial behaviour in adolescents is challenged. Those working with and researching adolescents should consider such dramatic interests in the context of personality and behavioural engagement before inferring clinical or forensic risk.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 5, 2009
Online Publication Date Apr 7, 2009
Publication Date 2009-09
Deposit Date Jan 12, 2012
Journal Personality and individual Differences
Print ISSN 0191-8869
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 47
Issue 4
Pages 235-240
Keywords Military interests; Gothic interests; Offending; Intrasexual competition; Psychopathology
Public URL
Publisher URL