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Published in: Open Access Journal of Forensic Pshchology, Vol. 5 2013


In the current study, we explored the effect of risk-assessment testimony, attributional complexity, and victim type on participants’ perceptions of the dangerousness of a sexually violent person and his need for treatment. Participants read details of a hypothetical sexual assault of a female minor and of an adult. Expert testimony of his risk assessment consisted of clinical opinion versus structured-clinical judgment (SCJ) versus actuarial assessment. Participants perceived clinical-opinion and SCJ testimony as equally influential when forming judgments of future dangerousness. In the context of treatment, however, participants relied on actuarial testimony when judging potential for risk. In addition, attributional complexity (AC) moderated perceptions of sexual risk. Overall, results point to the need for continued refinement of assessment techniques when determining dangerousness and need for treatment.

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