Measuring public perceptions of sex offenders: reimagining the Community Attitudes Toward Sex Offenders (CATSO) scale

Harper, Craig and Hogue, Todd (2015) Measuring public perceptions of sex offenders: reimagining the Community Attitudes Toward Sex Offenders (CATSO) scale. Psychology, Crime & Law, 21 (5). pp. 452-470. ISSN 1068-316X

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Abstract

The Community Attitudes Toward Sex Offenders (CATSO) scale is an 18-item self-report questionnaire designed to measure respondents’ attitudes toward sex offenders. Its original factor structure has been questioned by a number of previous studies, and so this paper sought to reimagine the scale as an outcome measure, as opposed to a scale of attitudes. A face validity analysis produced a provisional three-factor structure underlying the CATSO: ‘punitiveness,’ ‘stereotype endorsement,’ and ‘risk perception.’ A sample of 400 British members of the public completed a modified version of the CATSO, the Attitudes Toward Sex Offenders scale, the General Punitiveness Scale, and the Rational-Experiential Inventory. A three-factor structure of a 22-item modified CATSO was supported using half of the sample, with factors being labeled ‘sentencing and management,’ ‘stereotype endorsement,’ and ‘risk perception.’ Confirmatory factor analysis on data from the other half of the sample endorsed the three-factor structure; however, two items were removed in order to improve ratings of model fit. This new 20-item ‘Perceptions of Sex Offenders scale’ has practical utility beyond the measurement of attitudes, and suggestions for its future use are provided.

Additional Information:Accepted author version posted online: 27 Nov 2014
Keywords:Public attitudes, Stereotypes, sexual crime, bmjgoldcheck, NotOAChecked
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C880 Social Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C810 Applied Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C890 Psychology not elsewhere classified
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:16383
Deposited On:08 Jan 2015 13:08

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