P1: FPX/FGG P2: FPX
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment [saj] PL102-177 June 14, 2000 9:16 Style ﬁle version Nov. 19th, 1999
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, Vol. 12, No. 3, 2000
Sexual Offenders’ Implicit Planning:
A Conceptual Model
and Stephen M. Hudson
In recent years empirical research, clinical observation, and theoretical models
about sexual offending have emphasized the importance of problem solving and
decision making throughout different phases in the offense chain. This work sug-
gests that sometimes offense planning is explicit, systematic, and analytical, while
at other times it appears to be implicit and intuitive. The latter style of decision
making has been called seemingly unimportant decisions. We attempt to provide
an explanation of offenders’ implicit decision making and suggest two social cog-
nitive mechanisms capable of generating these types of decisions. We believe that
implicit decision making in offenders has the appearance of automaticity, that is,
decision making that is implicit, fast, relatively autonomous, frequently associ-
ated with a lack of control, effortless, and occurring without conscious awareness.
Drawing from diverse theoretical sources, we hypothesize that these types of deci-
sions are generated by underlying automatic goal dependent action plans. More
speciﬁcally, we suggest that there are at least two types of automatic goal de-
pendent plans evident in offenders’ decision making: offense scripts and mental
simulations. We draw implications for generating future hypotheses and provide
suggestions for future research.
KEY WORDS: cognitive distortions; seemingly unimportant decisions; implicit planning; sexual
In recent years empirical research, clinical observation, and theoretical mod-
els about sexual offending have emphasized the importance of problem solving
Department of Criminology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia. e-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org. Fax: 0061-3-9349-4259.
University of Canterbury.
To whom correspondence should be addressed.
2000 Plenum Publishing Corporation