Sunday, January 31, 2016

Two Clusters of Child Molesters Based on Impulsiveness

High impulsiveness is a general problem that affects most criminal offenders and is associated with greater recidivism risk. A cluster analysis of impulsiveness measured by the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale - Version 11 (BIS-11) was performed on a sample of hands-on child molesters.

The sample consisted of 208 child molesters enrolled in two different sectional studies carried out in São Paulo, Brazil. Using three factors from the BIS-11, a k-means cluster analysis was performed using the average silhouette width to determine cluster number. Direct logistic regression was performed to analyze the association of criminological and clinical features with the resulting clusters.

Two clusters were delineated. The cluster characterized by higher impulsiveness showed higher scores on the Sexual Screening for Pedophilic Interests (SSPI), Static-99, and Sexual Addiction Screening Test.

Given that child molesters are an extremely heterogeneous population, the "number of victims" item of the SSPI should call attention to those offenders with the highest motor, attentional, and non-planning impulsiveness. Our findings could have implications in terms of differences in therapeutic management for these two groups, with the most impulsive cluster benefitting from psychosocial strategies combined with pharmacological interventions.

...Nevertheless, our study confirmed our initial hypothesis that a child molester subgroup with the highest impulsiveness levels had the highest SSPI mean score; this was mainly due to individuals in this group having a greater number of victims. Certainly, the BIS-11 does not replace the usefulness of the SSPI, given that these instruments evaluate different constructs. However, the BIS-11 can be used as an adjunctive instrument in research on child molesters. Additionally, given that child molesters are an extremely heterogeneous population, the “number of victims” item of the SSPI should call attention to those offenders with the highest motor, attentional, and non-planning impulsiveness. As the SSPI is an instrument used to evaluate risk of recidivism, higher BIS-11 mean scores may indicate a higher risk of recidivist child molestation.

Impulsiveness may reflect a characteristically impulsive cognitive style or even a personality trait. This could predict vulnerability toward diverse behavioral problems.12 Likewise, impulsiveness involves multiple components, including rapid responding without thinking, lack of concern for consequences, preference for immediate reinforcement, disregard for rules, proneness to boredom, and failure to inhibit responses. Due to these myriad factors that compose impulsiveness, several existing measures of impulsiveness do not correlate significantly with one another, or show differences in content and convergence. This suggests that each measure is likely investigating different aspects of a multifaceted construct.30Additionally, studies using comparable designs have failed to find correspondence between questionnaire and behavioral measures of impulsiveness.31Despite the importance of the concept of impulsiveness to sexual offenses, there have been remarkably few studies on impulsiveness among child molesters as measured by the BIS-11. In addition, when impulsiveness has been studied among pedophilic child molesters, findings have been contradictory; this might be due to different instruments investigating different facets of the same construct. Therefore, more than one instrument is likely necessary to measure impulsiveness in this population...32 

Full article at:

By:  Baltieri DA1Boer DP2.
  • 1Sexual Disorders Outpatient Clinic, Department of Neurosciences, Faculdade de Medicina do ABC, Santo André, SP, Brazil.
  • 2Centre for Applied Psychology, University of Canberra, Australia. 
  •  2015 Apr-Jun;37(2):139-45. doi: 10.1590/1516-4446-2014-1568. Epub 2015 May 1.

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