Mimicry Deception Theory Applied to Grooming Behaviors of Child Sexual Abuse

Melissa Samantha de Roos, University of Texas at El Paso


Mimicry Deception Theory (MDT) is a theoretical framework used to analyze deception in terms of long- vs. short-term strategies employed by the deceiver. Grooming behaviors used by sex offenders to access child victims and to prolong the abuse while minimizing detection are a specific form of deception. We conducted two studies, coding 121 and 164 court reports of sex abuse appeal cases with child victims. Grooming that was more complex in nature was associated with abuse that lasted longer and was more difficult to detect. Further, victim vulnerabilities contributed to a sense of confusion in the victim, and a decreased likelihood of disclosure. Thus, initial support emerged for finding the five components of MDT (victim selection, community integration, complexity of deception, resource extraction, and detectability) among victim grooming patterns in cases of sexually abused children. Recommendations for prevention efforts are discussed.

Subject Area

Psychology|Experimental psychology

Recommended Citation

de Roos, Melissa Samantha, "Mimicry Deception Theory Applied to Grooming Behaviors of Child Sexual Abuse" (2017). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10284122.