The effect of attitudes towards individuals with sexual convictions on professional and student risk judgments

Harper, C. ORCID: 0000-0002-3172-0129 and Hicks, R., 2022. The effect of attitudes towards individuals with sexual convictions on professional and student risk judgments. Sexual Abuse. ISSN 1079-0632

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Attitudes towards individuals with sexual convictions is an area with growing research interest, but the effects of such attitudes on professional judgments is largely unexplored. What is known from the existing literature is that attitudes guide the interpretation of sexual crime related information, which cascade into potential biased or heuristically driven judgments. In this study we recruited samples of both students (n = 341) and forensic professionals (n = 186) to explore whether attitudes towards individuals with sexual convictions predicted risk judgments of hypothetical sexual offense scenarios, and whether this relationship is moderated by professional status or perpetrator characteristics. Forensic professionals expressed more positive attitudes overall, but the significant effect of attitudes on risk judgments was consistent between participant groups and was not moderated by perpetrator age or sex. We suggest that relying on attitudes as a basis for risk judgments opens the door to incorrect (and potentially dangerous) decision-making and discuss our data in terms of their potential clinical implications. An open-access preprint of this work is available at

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Sexual Abuse
Creators: Harper, C. and Hicks, R.
Publisher: Sage
Date: 28 February 2022
ISSN: 1079-0632
Rights: Accepted for publication in Sexual Abuse. Reuse is restricted to non-commercial and no derivative uses. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 17 Dec 2021 12:25
Last Modified: 12 Sep 2022 14:16

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