Ross Bartels

Ross Bartels

School of Psychology
Doctoral Researcher

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Title of PhD: Investigating the cognitive processes that underlie deviant sexual interests and fantasies

Supervisors: Professor Anthony Beech, Dr Leigh Harkins

I am interested in the distorted cognition and interests of both sex offenders and non-offenders, with a particular emphasis on sexual fantasies. Drawing upon concepts and research from cognitive and social psychology, my research aims to understand some of the processes that underlie sex offenders’ (implicit and explicit) cognition and sexual fantasies, with the hope of informing future research, theory, and practice.


BSc (Hons) Psychology

MSc Forensic Psychology


I have a first class BSc in Psychology from Staffordshire University, including a dissertation that involved the qualitative analysis of a serial killer’s discourse in the courtroom (supervised by Dr. Ceri Parsons). I also have a Masters in Forensic Psychology obtained from the University of Kent, where my dissertation looked into the sexual fantasies and cognitive distortions of rape-prone men (supervised by Dr. Theresa Gannon). Following this I worked as a research assistant at the University of Kent, aiding in research related to: 1) rape-related cognition and; 2) the evaluation of ‘Ex-Offenders Discharged Under Supervision’ (Exodus) – a project focused on providing employment, education, and training to Prolific and Priority Offenders (PPOs) within Kent.


Research interests

Sex offender cognition; Sexual Fantasies; Implicit cognition; Deviant sexual interests; Mental imagery

Other activities

I am currently a committee member for Psychology Postgraduate Affairs Group (psyPAG) where I act as the representative for the Division of Forensic Psychology (DFP) within the BPS.

I am also a volunteer for the Circles of Support and Accountability – an organization aimed at reducing sex offending, working in close partnership with criminal justice agencies.


Bartels, R., Beech, A. R., & Harkins, L. (2012). Towards a model of deviant sexual fantasy.Manuscript submitted for publication.

Bartels, R. M., Beech, A. R., & Harkins, L. (in press). Rape. In B. K. Puri & I. Treasaden (eds.), Forensic Psychiatry. Hodder Arnold: London

Bartels, R. M., & Gannon, T. A. (2011). Understanding the sexual fantasies of sex offenders and their correlates. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 16, 551-561.

Bartels, R M., & Gannon, T. A. (2009). Rape supportive cognition, sexual fantasies, and implicit offense -scripts: A comparison between high and low rape-prone men. Sexual Abuse in Australia and New Zealand, 1, 14-20.

Bartels, R., & Parsons, C. (2009). The social construction of a serial killer. Feminism & Psychology, 19, 267−280.


Bartels, R. M., Harkins, L., & Beech, A. R. (2011, November). Application of Indirect Measures to Deviant Sexual Interest and Fantasy. In L. Harkins (Chair) Indirect Approaches in Assessing Factors Related to Sexual Offending. Symposium conducted at the 30th Annual Conference for the Association of the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, Toronto, Canada.

Bartels, R. M. (2010, July). Analysing the talk of a serial killer. Presented at the 25th Annual Conference of the Psychology Postgraduate Affairs Group, Sheffield, UK.

Bartels, R. M. & Gannon, T. A. (2010, June). Rape supportive cognition, sexual fantasies  and implicit offence-scripts: A Comparison between high and low rape prone men. Poster presented at the Annual Conference for the BPS’s Division of Forensic Psychology, Kent, UK