Southern Methodist University.
Article first published online: 19 FEB 2006
Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Behavioral Sciences & the Law
Special Issue: Gender and Psychopathy Volume 2
Volume 24, Issue 1, pages 65–85, January/February 2006
How to Cite
Guy, L. S. and Edens, J. F. (2006), Gender differences in attitudes toward psychopathic sexual offenders. Behav. Sci. Law, 24: 65–85. doi: 10.1002/bsl.665
An earlier version of these findings was presented at the annual conference of the American Psychology–Law Society, March, 2005.
We would like to thank Cyndi Traylor for her assistance with data collection and entry. This research was funded by a Student Research Grant awarded to the first author by the American Society of Trial Consultants.
- Issue published online: 19 FEB 2006
- Article first published online: 19 FEB 2006
- American Society of Trial Consultants
Although a considerable amount of research has been conducted examining the validity of psychopathy as a psychological construct, relatively few studies have focused on the effects of using this disorder in “real-world” settings to influence the attitudes of laypersons who are making life-altering decisions about offenders. This study attempted to replicate and extend earlier findings (Guy & Edens, 2003) suggesting that there are gender differences in the impact of expert testimony regarding psychopathy. A sample of 599 undergraduates reviewed case facts regarding a hypothetical Sexually Violent Predator trial in which the type of risk assessment testimony provided (clinical opinion, actuarial scale, psychopathy evaluation) and the age of the victims (adult versus child) were manipulated. Consistent with prior research, despite overall high rates of support for commitment in the adult victim condition, men were less prone than women to support civil commitment when the defendant was described as “a psychopath” (62.5 versus 86.5%). No such gender differences were noted in the clinical opinion or actuarial conditions. When the victims were identified as children, type of testimony had no impact because support for commitment was almost unilateral. Finally, ratings of how psychopathic the defendant was perceived to be (regardless of the testimony provided) were significantly associated with support for commitment across most conditions. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.