Vol. XXIX, No. 3
Summer 2017
Text Only Version
In This Issue
Regular Features
Editor's Note
President's Message
FAQ
Is pornography use safe for those convicted of a sexual offence?
Featured Articles
Prosocial Treatment Methods for Juveniles Who Sexually Offended
The Relationship between Implicit and Explicit Evaluations of Sexual Aggression and Sexually Aggressive Behavior
Child pornography offenders: Profiles of a complex group
Students' Voice
Processes Accounting for the Covariation Between Hypersexual and Psychopathic Traits
Book Review
Treatment of High-Risk Sexual Offenders: An Integrated Approach
ATSA News
Changing The Journal Name
Apply for the ATSA Fellow for 2017
2017 Election
ATSA International Committee: An introduction
2017 ATSA Conference: Exhibit and Support Opportunities
Win a Free Conference Registration
New ATSA Conference Event
Keeping up with the news
Legislative update
New ATSA Members
Newsletter Tools
Search Past Issues
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Forum Team
David Prescott
Book Review Editor

Sarah Gorter
Production Editor

Forum Editor
Contact the editor or submit articles to:

Heather M. Moulden, Ph.D.
Forensic Program
St. Joseph's Healthcare
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
E: hmoulden@stjoes.ca
P: (905) 522-1155 ext. 35539
The Relationship between Implicit and Explicit Evaluations of Sexual Aggression and Sexually Aggressive Behavior
Chantal A. Hermann, Ph.D.
Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services

Chantal HermannEvaluations[1] are an individual’s evaluative thoughts about something such as a person, object, or behavior (e.g., Albarracín, Zanna, Johnson, & Kumkale, 2005; Ajzen, 2001; Gawronski & Bodenhausen, 2007). Social psychology theory and research support the idea that evaluations, in part, predict behavior (e.g., Ajzen 1991, 2001; Glasman & Albarracín, 2006; Kraus, 1995). Empirical evidence suggests this is true whether the evaluations are immediate (implicit evaluations) or deliberative (explicit evaluations), and that both the immediate and deliberative evaluations are important (e.g., Greenwald & Farnham, 2000; Nosek & Smyth, 2007). From this research, Kevin Nunes, our colleagues, and I hypothesized that how someone evaluates sexual aggression would predict, in part whether or not they would engage in sexually aggressive behavior.

To explore this research question, we conducted several cross-sectional studies examining the relationship between implicit and explicit evaluations of rape and sexually aggressive behavior. As I noted above, we hypothesized that evaluations would be associated with sexually aggressive behavior, but this had not previously been explored in research. Some of our studies have found more positive implicit evaluations of rape are associated with self-reported sexually aggressive behavior and self-reported likelihood to rape (Nunes, Hermann, & Ratcliffe, 2013), and all have found more positive explicit evaluations of rape are associated with self-reported sexually aggressive behavior and self-reported likelihood to rape (Hermann, Nunes, & Maimone, 2016; Nunes, Hermann, White, Pettersen, & Bumby, 2016; Nunes et al., 2013). For example, in our first study exploring this research question, Nunes et al. (2013)  found implicit and explicit evaluations were independently associated with past sexually aggressive behavior and self-reported likelihood to rape in a sample of students.

We also wanted to explore this research question using a sample of men recruited from the community. Sexual aggression encompasses behaviors that differ on dimensions of tactic (verbal coercion to physical aggression) and  activity (unwanted kissing or touching to penetrative acts). We know that many sexual assaults go undetected, and even if they are detected, may not result in official charges or convictions. This means that individuals with convictions for sexual aggression may not be fully representative of men who engage in sexually aggressive behavior against adults. In our past research we have used student samples, but these samples tend to be fairly homogeneous in their demographic characteristics, so they also may not be fully representative of men who engage in sexually aggressive behavior against adults. Community samples can offer diversity and complement samples of students and men with convictions for sexual aggression against adults.      

In Hermann, Nunes, and Maimone (2016) we explored whether implicit and explicit evaluations of sexual aggression were associated with sexually aggressive behavior in samples of students and community men. In both samples we found explicit evaluations of sexual aggression were moderately to strongly associated with sexually aggressive behavior, but this same pattern of results was not found for implicit evaluations of sexual aggression. These results suggested more research was needed to explore the role implicit and explicit evaluations play in sexual aggression.

Of particular interest is whether evaluations of sexual aggression predict future sexually aggressive behavior. If evaluations are a causal factor for this type of behavior, then we would expect that they would predict whether or not people engage in future sexually aggressive behavior. To the best of our knowledge, we are the first to explore this research question. In Hermann and Nunes (2016), we found implicit and explicit evaluations of sexual aggression independently predicted whether community men engaged in future sexually aggressive behavior. These results are noteworthy as they provide new evidence about the direction of potential influence between evaluations and sexually aggressive behavior. Furthermore, our results are consistent with the idea—but of course do not demonstrate—that implicit and explicit evaluations of sexual aggression play a causal role in sexually aggressive behavior.

In addition to bettering our understanding of the role evaluations may play in sexual aggression, we also learned that the pattern of relationships between evaluations and sexual aggression was consistent for samples of students and community men. A common critique of research on sexual aggression conducted with student samples is that the results may not generalize to other samples of men (i.e., community or incarcerated samples). The results reported above suggest that this may not be the case for research exploring the relationship between evaluations of sexual aggression and sexually aggressive behavior. Next we would like to try to replicate these findings with incarcerated samples of men with convictions for sexual aggression against adults to determine if research conducted with students and community men could also generalize to this population.

The results of these studies are just the first step in understanding the relationship between evaluations and sexual offending. These studies need to be replicated and expanded on in research using different samples (students, community men, men in the criminal justice system), validated measures of evaluations, and different research designs (e.g., experimental, longitudinal, etc.). If future research finds evaluations predict sexually aggressive behavior against adults, that evaluations of sexual aggression can change, and that change is associated with changes in sexually aggressive behavior, then evaluations of sexual aggression would be an important target in risk assessment and treatment. 

***

I would like to thank ATSA for the Pre-Doctoral Research Grant that funded my doctoral dissertation research. To date, this research is reported in Hermann, Nunes, and Maimone (2016) and Hermann and Nunes (2016). This research was also facilitated by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

References

Albarracín, D., Zanna, M. P., Johnson, B. T., & Kumkale, G. T. (2005). Attitudes: Introduction and scope. In D. Albarracín, M. P. Zanna, & B. T. Johnson (Eds.), The Handbook of Attitudes(pp. 3-19). New York, NY: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Ajzen, I. (1991). The Theory of Planned Behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50, 179-211. doi 10.1016/0749-5978(91)90020-T

Ajzen, I. (2001). Nature and operation of attitudes. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 27-58. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.52.1.27

Gawronski, B., & Bodenhausen, G. V. (2007). Unraveling the processes underlying evaluation: Attitudes from the perspective of the APE model. Social Cognition, 25, 687-717. doi: 10.1521/soco.2007.25.5.687

Glasman, L. R., & Albarracín, D. (2006). Forming attitudes that predict future behavior: A meta analysis of the attitude-behavior relation. Psychological Bulletin, 132, 778-822. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.132.5.778

Greenwald, A. G., & Farnham, S. D. (2000). Using the Implicit Association Test to measure self- esteem and self-concept.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 1022-1038. doi 10.1037//0022-3514.79.6.1022

Hermann, C. A. & Nunes, K. L. (2016). Implicit and explicit evaluations of sexual aggression predict subsequent sexually aggressive behavior in a sample of community men. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/1079063216682952

Hermann, C. A., Nunes, K. L., & Maimone, S. (2016). Examining implicit and explicit evaluations of sexual aggression and sexually aggressive behavior in men recruited online. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/1079063216681560

Kraus, S. J. (1995). Attitudes and the prediction of behavior: A meta-analysis of the empirical literature.Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 21, 58-75. doi: 10.1177/0146167295211007

Nosek, B. A., & Smyth, F. L. (2007). A multitrait-multimethod validation of the Implicit Association Test: Implicit and explicit attitudes are related but distinct constructs. Experimental Psychology, 54, 14-29. doi 10.1027/1618-3169.54.1.14

Nunes, K. L., Hermann, C. A., & Ratcliffe, K. (2013). Implicit and explicit attitudes towards rape are associated with sexual aggression. Journal of Interpersonal violence, 28, 2657- 2675. doi: 10.1177/0886260513487995

Nunes, K. L., Hermann, C. A., White, K., Pettersen, C., & Bumby, K. (2016). Attitude may be everything, but is everything an attitude? Cognitive distortions may not be evaluations towards rape. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/1079063215625489



[1] We use evaluationthroughout to refer to attitude as defined in the social psychological literature, in which the essential feature of attitudes is evaluation; this is intended to distinguish it from the use of attitude in the correctional/forensic/criminological literature, which usually seems to reflect a much broader lay definition (Nunes et al., 2013; Nunes, Hermann et al., 2016).


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