East Tennessee State University
Subject Listing - Psychology
Advisor: Dr. Chris Dula
Friday, Oral Session 6, Presentation 5, Carmichael Hall 102
DEVELOPMENT OF THE SEX OFFENDER ATTITUDE SCALE
Research has shown that the attitude of the public toward sex offenders is generally negative (Nelson, Herlihy, and Oescher, 2002). It has also been shown there are a variety of myths widely held about sex offenders, which are typically false (e.g., Federoff & Moran, 1997; Johnston, Ward, and Hudson, 1997; Schwartz, 1995). However there is little information as to what aspects of sex offenders are most stigmatized or to what degree prejudices might vary toward sex offenders. If the public holds staunch unwarranted negative attitudes toward sex offenders, there is little hope for released sex offenders to successfully reintegrate into society and thus, less informal monitoring of former offenders and little incentive to prevent re-offending. Thus, it is in the interest of society, that we understand the nature of prejudices toward sex offenders, so that attempts can be made to promote maximal reintegration in order to prevent recidivism. The purpose of this project was to develop a scale for measuring attitudes toward sex offenders. The Sex Offender Attitude Scale (SOAS) was developed by psychology faculty and students who generated an initial set of 27 items. The SOAS was given to 66 individuals from a mid-sized southeastern university (mean age = 23.3 years, sd = 6.4), along with a variety of other personality measures. The SOAS was subjected to a principal components factor analysis, and two subscales were identified whose themes revolved around removing blame from the offender and a sense of offenders being hopeless in terms of reformation. As a result of the analyses, 4 items were removed, leaving 23 items. The SOAS Total scale (all items combined), Blame Removal scale, and Hopelessness scale, had Chronbach's Alpha coefficients of .76, .60, .85, respectively. The various SOAS scales were related to other measures in predicted directions, including measures of Agreeableness, Tolerance, Sociability, and Responsibility, with positive and negative correlations ranging in magnitude from r = .26 to r = .62, where p < .05. Results will be discussed in terms of further development of the SOAS, its relation to various constructs, and its ultimate intended use in helping to reintegrate former sexual offenders into society in such a way as to prevent re-offending, through increasing social contact with others (higher levels of informal monitoring) and increasing feelings of acceptance and forgiveness in the former offender (to invoke a greater desire to resist re-offending in order to maintain approval).
Advisor: Dr. Chris Dula, Assistant Professor, Psychology, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN