Back to overview

2014-16: Hostile behaviour towards women in sex offenders (Call 2014-16)

Target group

Sex offenders who are being treated in the forensic psychiatric setting (clinical).

Establishing measurements for hostile behaviour towards women among sex offenders

In a preliminary study on how to distinguish sex offenders, several areas of interest emerged in which more specific research was required to further investigate the heterogeneous group of sex offenders and, where possible, to specify them. This project was a direct result, and focused on the cognitive distortion of hostile behaviour towards women in sex offenders.

Rapists and fornicators can hold negative and hostile views on women. This hostile behaviour towards women can be regarded as a specific category of cognitive distortions based on the underlying implicit theory of 'women as incomprehensible and unreliable beings'. Men with clearly misogynistic ideas are more likely to display sexual aggression at some point in their lives. Moreover, misogynistic ideas are more common among recidivist sex offenders than among 'first offenders'. Because hostile behaviour towards women can be considered as a cognitive distortion/attitude, it may also be possible to identify hostile behaviour towards women using one of the implicit tasks designed to measure attitudes, such as the Implicit Association Task (IAT), Affect Misattribution Procedure (AMP) or Affective Priming (AP). The challenge of this research was to find the most concise typical associations that underlie hostile behaviour towards women. The strength of these associations could then be used to measure and map out hostile behaviour towards women.

Application and effect

Rapists on a hospital order who belonged to the primary target group in this study do not appear to be characterised by a high degree of classical negative misogyny. Unexpectedly, this group of rapists shows a lower female-deceptive association than the control group. However, there is strikingly more "positive" sexism. Implicit and explicit measures measure different but complementary information, with the Implicit Association Task (IAT) being a particularly valuable addition to explicit instruments. The precise meaning and consequences of the clearly present "positive" sexism in this group deserve further attention.

Executive party

The Forensische Zorgspecialisten, The University of Amsterdam, Radboud University and the Pompestichting.