Attitudes and Decisions about Sexual Offenders: A Comparison of Laypersons and Professionals
Article first published online: 31 JUL 2011
Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology
Volume 22, Issue 3, pages 225–238, May/June 2012
How to Cite
Jung, S., Jamieson, L., Buro, K. and DeCesare, J. (2012), Attitudes and Decisions about Sexual Offenders: A Comparison of Laypersons and Professionals. J. Community. Appl. Soc. Psychol., 22: 225–238. doi: 10.1002/casp.1109
- Issue published online: 13 MAR 2012
- Article first published online: 31 JUL 2011
- Manuscript Accepted: 12 JUN 2011
- MacEwan University
- Alberta Solicitor General and Public Security
- Northern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Services (specifically, Alberta Hospital Edmonton and Forensic Assessment & Community Services)
- sex offenders;
The current study examines the inherent biases about sexual offending held by 123 laypersons and 120 professionals (i.e. probation officers and therapists). In order to determine the extent of these biases, a series of brief newspaper articles were constructed to depict cases of sexual offenders. Each article comprised several combinations of key variables, including offender type, level of admission, and the presence of alcohol. Participants read a series of three fabricated articles and then completed a questionnaire regarding attitudes about the various offenders. The results indicate important differences between the lay and professional samples. Laypersons deemed sex offenders more favourably in terms of character, accountability, and risk for sexual recidivism. However, both groups showed some similar perceptions about sexual offending. Specifically, both groups evaluated child molesters more negatively than exhibitionists and in some cases, rapists. These findings highlight the need for continuing education for professionals in order to attenuate the effects of prejudicial attitudes. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.