Date of Graduation
There has been increasing awareness in the past decade of the serious nature and extent of sexual offenses committed by male adolescents. The importance of investigation in the area has been augmented by recognition that a large proportion of all sexual offenses are committed by persons under the age of 18. Extensive research is necessary to determine the variables that are related to this deviant behavior in an attempt to develop prevention and treatment techniques. Literature on adult sexual offenders and nonclinical samples suggest that attitudes held by males are factors that contribute to sexual aggression. The purpose of this study was to determine the correlation of various attitudes and specific cognitive distortions with the history of sexually offensive behavior by male adolescents. In the study, rapists and child molesters were researched and compared to a group of delinquent adolescents without a history of sexual offending. Each group completed a battery of self-report measures that assess various attitudes and cognitive distortions. The materials that were used included Burt's (1980) scales measuring Sex Role Stereotyping, Acceptance of Interpersonal Violence, Rape Myth Acceptance, and Adversarial Sexual Beliefs; Cognitive Distortion and Immaturity Scale of the Multiphasic Sex Inventory; Hostility Toward Women Scale; Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale; Self-Reported Delinquency Scale. In addition, subjects responded to questions following presentation of audiotaped vignettes of sexual offenses to further assess cognitive distortions. Statistical procedures consisted of performing one-way Analyses of Variance on each of the measures to determine whether group differences were present. Social desirability and length of stay in treatment were utilized as covariates in the analyses. Results indicate that adolescent sexual offenders and delinquents without a history of sexual offending do not necessarily differ in attitudes pertaining to sexual relations and behavior; in fact, the comparison group demonstrated more deviant responding than sexual offenders on several measures (Rape Myth Acceptance, Sex Role Stereotyping, responses to vignettes). Child molesters, however, reported significantly more cognitive distortions on the Cognitive Distortion and Immaturity Scale than the comparison group. Given the mixed evidence from previous research and the results of this study, there is weak evidence for the predictive validity of attitudinal variables in relation to sexual aggression. It is possible that males may endorse attitudes supportive of rape, interpersonal violence, adversarial sexual relations, and sex role stereotypes, but these beliefs may not be reflected in actual sexual behavior. It has been suggested that there is a common underlying factor in both sexual and nonsexual coercion that includes hostile attitudes and personality characteristics (Malamuth et al., 1991). Other factors interact with these components and determine the nature in which coerciveness will be expressed. If this is the case, then these other explanatory variables need to be determined.
Aljazireh, Laureen Marie, "Attitudes and cognitive distortions of male adolescent sexual offenders." (1994). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 8381.