Assessing the implicit beliefs of sexual offenders using the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure: A First Study

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APA Citation: 

Dawson, D. L., Barnes-Holmes, D., Gresswell, D. M., Hart, A. J. P., & Gore, N. J. (2009). Assessing the implicit beliefs of sexual offenders using the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure: A First Study. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 21(1), 57-75.

Publication Topic: 
Behavior Analysis: Empirical
RFT: Empirical
Publication Type: 
Article
Language: 
English
Keyword(s): 
implicit beliefs, cognitive distortion, sexual offending, IRAP
Abstract: 

Researchers have proposed that the cognitive distortions of sexual offenders are underpinned by a number of implicit cognitive processes termed implicit theories (Ward & Keenan, 1999; Ward, 2000). Although the implicit theory hypothesis has provided a framework for understanding the motivations of sexual offenders, it has until recently received little empirical support due to broader limitations with standard forensic assessment procedures. The current research therefore aimed to determine whether a new assessment methodology, the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP), could provide further evidence for Ward and Keenan’s (1999) children as sexual beings implicit theory. The results indicated that the IRAP was more effective at identifying core differences between sexual offenders against children and non-offenders than a cognitive distortion questionnaire. Furthermore, although both groups demonstrated an overall IRAP response bias towards adults as sexual and children as non-sexual, this was significantly impaired in the sexual offender group, providing support for the implicit theory hypothesis. The findings of the study are discussed in relation to previous research, and recommendations for the further development of implicit measurement methodologies are made.

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