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Cognitive Approaches to the Assessment of Sexual Interest in Sexual Offenders

David Thornton (Editor), D. Richard Laws (Co-Editor)
ISBN: 978-0-470-74756-8
250 pages
July 2009
Cognitive Approaches to the Assessment of Sexual Interest in Sexual Offenders (0470747560) cover image


New for the Wiley Series in Forensic Clinical Psychology, Cognitive Approaches to the Treatment of Sexual Offenders describes and evaluates the current methods of measuring sexual interest in sex offenders - namely penile plethysmography, the Abel Assessment for Sexual Interest, Affinity 2.1, the Implicit Association Test, the Stroop test and the polygraph. The book also discusses how established cognitive assessment methods such as the attentional blink and the startle probe reflex can be adapted for use with sex offenders. It therefore brings together in one volume all the latest research and practice in this area, along with critical commentary on the effectiveness of each method.
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Table of Contents

About the Editors.

List of Contributors.

Series Editors’ Preface.

Introduction (David Thornton and D. Richard Laws).

1 Penile Plethysmography: Strengths, Limitations, Innovations (D. Richard Laws).

2 The Abel Assessment for Sexual Interests – 2: A Critical Review (Susan J. Sachsenmaier and Carmen L.Z. Gress).

3 Affinity: The Development of a Self-Report Assessment of Paedophile Sexual Interest Incorporating a Viewing Time Validity Measure (David V. Glasgow).

4 Cognitive Modelling of Sexual Arousal and Interest: Choice Reaction Time Measures (Carmen L.Z. Gress and D. Richard Laws).

5 The Implicit Association Test as a Measure of Sexual Interest (Nicola S. Gray and Robert J. Snowden).

6 Measuring Child Molesters’ Implicit Cognitions about Self and Children (Kevin L. Nunes).

7 The Rapid Serial Visual Presentation Test of Sexual Interest in Child Molesters (Vanja E. Flak, Anthony R. Beech and Glyn W. Humphreys).

8 Assessing Sexual Interest with the Emotional Stroop Test (Paul Smith).

9 Comparing Two Implicit Cognitive Measures of Sexual Interest: A Pictorial Modified Stroop Task and the Implicit Association Test (Caoilte ´O Ciardha and Michael Gormley).

10 The Startle Probe Reflex: An Alternative Approach to the Measurement of Sexual Interest (Jeffrey E. Hecker, Matthew W. King and R. Jamie Scoular).

11 Postscript: Steps Towards Effective Assessment of Sexual Interest (David Thornton and D. Richard Laws).


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Author Information

David Thornton is the treatment director for Wisconsin’s program for sexually violent persons, and an Adjunct Professor in the department of Clinical Psychology at the University of Bergen, Norway. He is co-author of STATIC-99, the most widely used risk assessment instrument for sexual offenders in the world, and also of Risk Matrix 2000, the commonly used risk assessment instrument in the United Kingdom. He currently serves on the editorial board of Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, and is a member of the Executive Board of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers. 

D. Richard Laws is co-director of the Pacific Psychological Assessment Corporation in Victoria, BC, Canada. He is an adjunct faculty member at Simon Fraser University and the University of Birmingham, UK. Dr. Laws is known in the research field of sexual deviance primarily for his development of assessment procedures. He currently serves on the editorial boards of Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, Journal of Sexual Aggression, Journal of Interpersonal Violence and Legal and Criminological Psychology.

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"Thoroton and Laws' edited volume Cognitive Approaches to the Assessment of Sexual interest in Sexual Offendersis a massively useful brief primer on the variety of methods from experimental cognitive psychology that have been examined in relation to this question." (Psychology & Sexuality, January 2010)

This book provides a comprehensive account of the range of approaches and techniques with which male (and in some cases female) sexual arousal patterns can be assessed. A fundamental read for anyone involved in researching, assessing, or treating sex offenders.
Don Grubin, Professor of Forensic Psychiatry, Newcastle University

Thornton and Laws' book provides up-to-date and comprehensive information on each technology. Written by authoritative sources, this book is likely to move this field of enquiry forward considerably.
Dr Ruth Mann, Interventions & Substance Misuse Group, National Offender Management Service, England and Wales

This book gives an outstanding overview of current trends in sex offender assessment. Experts in the field deliver insights into novel latency-based testing procedures. The book features chapters on viewing time and choice-reaction time tasks, on modified versions of the Stroop test, on the attentional blink and the startle probe as well as on the implicit association test. Most of these tests originated in cognitive psychological research and are now being fruitfully applied to identify disorders of sexual preference. The exposition is clear and succinct. The book serves as an introduction to and an overview of an exciting new area of research. Within the field of sex offender treatment and assessment, this book will be a highly useful resource for researchers and practitioners alike.
Dr Andreas Mokros, Department of Forensic Psychiatry, University of Regensburg

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