Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment [saj] pp1085-sebu-478696 April 6, 2004 19:9 Style ﬁle version Nov 28th, 2002
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, Vol. 16, No. 2, April 2004 (
Processing Bias for Sexual Material: The Emotional
Stroop and Sexual Offenders
and Mitch Waterman
As part of an ongoing research project we examined information-processing bi-
ases in forensic andnonforensic participants (n = 10 sexoffenders, n = 10 violent
offenders, n = 10 nonviolent offenders, and n = 13 undergraduates). A comput-
erised version of the Stroop task demonstrated that offenders convicted of both
sexualand violent offences were signiﬁcantly slower than undergraduates to color-
name words relating to sexual offending (with sex offenders demonstrating the
greatest interference bias). Furthermore, processing bias was also evident for
aggression words in violent offenders and violent sexual offenders but not in non-
violent sexual offenders. Speciﬁcally, paedophiles convicted of indecent assault
presented different response proﬁles compared to heterosexual rapists. These ﬁnd-
ings suggest that tests that assess information processing bias for salient material
may also prove useful as an assessment tool within forensic populations.
KEY WORDS: Stroop; bias; sexual; aggression; offender.
Processing bias for sexual material has been explored in normal and sexually
dysfunctional males (Van den Hout & Barlow, 2000) but to date little attention
has been devoted to sexual offenders. It appears that both sexually functional and
dysfunctional males appear to demonstrate vigilance for sexual material but that
this vigilance is greatest in the functional males (Van den Hout & Barlow, 2000). In
addition, evidence of processing effects for sexual material has been shown using
priming paradigms to introduce Sexual-Content-Induced Delay (SCID; Geer &
Melton, 1997; Spiering, Everaerd, & Elzinga, 2002) in which recognition of sexual
School of Psychology, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at School of Psychology, University of Leeds, Leeds
LS2 9JT, United Kingdom; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2004 Plenum Publishing Corporation