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Becker JV, Kaplan MS, Tenke CE. Behav. Ther. 1992; 23(1): 87-97.


(Copyright © 1992, Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Publisher Elsevier Publishing)






VioLit summary:

The goal of this article by Becker et al. was to explore profiles of erectile responses in adolescent sex offenders. Relationships between profiles including admission of guilt and offender's victimization history were also explored.

A quasi-experimental method was employed for this study. Eighty-three male adolescent sex offenders, aged 13-19, who were referred to the Sexual Behavior Clinic were used as subjects for this study. Complete data were available for 79. 66% were black, 23% were Hispanic, and 8.5% were Caucasian. While the sample was said to be predominantly minority, it was argued that it was representative of clients of social services and the criminal justice system in New York City. Victims of this group were 23% adult and the rest were under eighteen. These youth were found guilty of sex crimes by the criminal justice system or admitted to committing sexual abuse. 85% of the youth admitted committing the offenses at least partially. 19.8% were sexually abused while 54.2% were physically abused. The measurement of arousal was done through use of plethysmography using a mercury strain gauge. The baseline measure was percent full erection with full erection defined by self-report either from stimulus or masturbation. The stimulus consisted of audio cues which gave a verbal portrayal of sexual interactions including those with very young persons, force or no force, incest, male and female persons, rape, nonsexual interactions, male assault, female assault, and a neutral cue which consisted of social interaction. The stimulus was presented after calibration at 0% full erection and subsequent cues were presented when the erection response dropped below 20% full erection. A minimal 30 second interval delay was used. Response profiles were created. Subjects were classified according to their response profiles to all cues using female targets. Assault and incest were excluded from this. Age categories were also assigned; these were child, peer (based on respondent's age), and adult. Mutually exclusive categories were defined. The nonresponder showed less than 20% full erection (FE) in any age category. The minimal responder showed a maximum response less than 20% FE but showed a differential of 25% or less between the most extreme response to all 19 cues. The nondiscriminator showed response to female cues above 20% FE and differentiated between responses to all age groups at 25% or less. Child, Peer, Adult, and Adult-Child responders showed response of over 25% FE to one of these age categories. Additional stimuli categories were male cues, assault cues, and incest cues. The data were analyzed using contingency tables and continuity correct chi-square. Erectile response differences between groups were evaluated using the Mann-Whitney U.

Male and assault cues brought out the smallest response. Abused participants were more responsive than nonabused participants. The typical responder was aroused by cues representing one or more ages. The typical child responder was nonresponsive to adult cues and vice versa. The adult-child category was infrequent. The nondiscriminators were highly aroused by all female sexual stimuli but not to the neutral cue. 30.1% were unresponsive to any female cues; 36.1% were responsive to child cues, and 32.6% were responsive to peer or adult cues. There was a big difference in response levels of deniers and admitters. 18% of admitters were nonresponders as opposed to 58% of the deniers (p<.005). Deniers were less responsive in general but were maximally responsive to child cues when they were. Admitters were more responsive to peer cues but had some response to adult and child cues. Deniers were significantly less responsive to child cues (p<.01). When nonresponders were excluded deniers had significantly greater response to child cues. Self-reported victimization was significantly associated with lowered incidence of nonresponder profiles. Abused respondents were also significantly more likely to be nondiscriminators. Adult responders were found to be unresponsive to male and incest cues. The female child profile respondents also measured response to male and incest cues. Nondiscriminators for female cues had greater response across the board. Abused respondents had overall response than nonabused to male and incest cues. Deniers tended to be nonresponders to male and incest cues. Respondents who had been abused were significantly less selective for females than nonabused respondents. Nondiscriminators were generally and significantly more responsive than discriminators to all the additional cue categories including the neutral category (p<.025), male (p<.01), incest (p<.005), and assault (p<.005).

The authors concluded that the plethysmograph has limited use diagnostically with adolescents because of the high rate of nonresponse among deniers. Among admitters, however, the authors stated that it may have use as a measurement of therapy outcome. Future research, they said, needs to evaluate efficacy of the plethysmograph in predicting treatment relapse. Long-term follow up studies were specifically recommended. Additionally, the authors said that assessment needs to be done to see how and under what circumstances a history of abuse is related to erotic patterns. Research with a wider range of participants was also advocated.

This study adds to the literature on arousal and sex offending. This study particularly contributes in the exploration of the connection between cognitive distortions (denying) and abuse histories and arousal patterns. As the authors stated, this study cannot be generalized past the group of referrals that New York refers for treatment. It is impossible to get a sense of how these youth compare to nonsexually deviant adolescents. The use of normal controls in these studies would significantly enhance our ability to judge what "normal" really is and in what ways these youthful sex offenders really deviate from this.

(CSPV Abstract - Copyright © 1992-2007 by the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, Institute of Behavioral Science, Regents of the University of Colorado)

Juvenile Offender
Juvenile Violence
Sexual Assault Offender
Juvenile Male
Male Offender
Male Violence
Early Adolescence
Late Adolescence
Rape Offender
Child Molester
Child Sexual Abuse Offender
Child Abuse Offender
Child Abuse Victim
Child Abuse Effects
Child Physical Abuse Effects
Child Physical Abuse Victim
Child Sexual Abuse Victim
Child Sexual Abuse Effects
Sexual Assault Victim
Sexual Assault Effects
Rape Causes
Child Abuse Causes
Child Sexual Abuse Offender
Child Sexual Abuse Causes
Childhood Victimization
Victim Turned Offender
Sexual Arousal
Erectile Response
Offender Denial
Violence Against Women

Language: en


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