Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Psychological and Brain Sciences

Committee Chair

Meyer, Robert G.

Author's Keywords

Psychosocial; Sex offender; Criminality; Violence


Sex offenders--Psychology; Sex offenders--Mental health


Sexual abuse and sexual violence perpetrated against women and children in the United States are social problems that need to be addressed. The United States is one of the most sexually violent societies in the world, having one of the highest rates of any industrialized country of rape and sexual violence (Stewart, 2002). Although any type of sexual victimization is problematic, sexual violence in particular can have particularly devastating effects for the victim. We urgently need to know why some adults sexually abuse and assault (Cannon, 2001). Examination of the psychosocial antecedents of sex offender criminality and violence will add to the research literature that has explored the predictors of criminality and violence in sex offenders. These results will be useful in developing assessment instruments and treatment programs for sex offenders and developing preventive interventions for individuals who are at risk to commit criminal, violent and sexual offenses. The major predictors of sexual offense recidivism have been found to be factors related to previous specific sex crimes and to a lesser extent previous crimes in general (Hanson, 2000). Criminal and sexual offense history along with other static predictors of recidivism among sex offenders have been used by clinicians and researchers to predict a likelihood that a sexual offender will reoffend and if they will reoffend violently. The literature also suggests that exposure to violence and sexual maltreatment in childhood is a major predictor of sexual offending in that it encourages the continuation of abuse to the victims' own children and general members of the public in the form of criminal behavior (Falshaw, Brown & Hollin, 1996). There is constant pressure from the legal system for psychologists to make predictions concerning the likelihood for an individual sex offender to reoffend. Legal and ethical considerations mandate that the psychologists' opinions are guided by empirical evidence (Campbell, 2000). In this study, psychosocial antecedents of sex offender criminality and violence will be examined.