Researchers and clinicians hypothesize that child molesters hold offence- supportive beliefs or cognitive distortions that require restructuring for successful rehabilitation. However, there is little empirical evidence to support this hypothesis. Current questionnaire measures of both untreated and treated child molesters’ cognitive distortions show that these men typically disagree with cognitive distortions. Such findings, especially prior to treatment, are often interpreted to mean that child molesters are faking good. In this study we drew on personality-related research showing that when participants intentionally respond in a socially desirable way on questionnaires, they make faster item responses than when answering honestly. Untreated child molesters, treated child molesters, and two types of controls (nonsexual offenders and nonoffenders) were administered a computerized cognitive distortion questionnaire and their responses and response times were recorded. Consistent with previous research, all groups tended to disagree with the cognitive distortions. However, response time data were surprising; only the treated child molesters displayed the fake-good pattern of responding significantly faster in rejecting cognitive distortions. We speculate about the implications of these results for the cognitive distortion hypothesis, and for understanding how current treatment programs effect cognitive distortion change.
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 1, 2005
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