Assessment of deviant arousal in adult male sex offenders with developmental disabilities

J Appl Behav Anal. Summer 2006;39(2):173-88. doi: 10.1901/jaba.2006.46-05.


Ten individuals, residing in a treatment facility specializing in the rehabilitation of sex offenders with developmental disabilities, participated in an arousal assessment involving the use of the penile plethysmograph. The arousal assessments involved measuring change in penile circumference to various categories of stimuli both appropriate (adult men and women) and inappropriate (e.g., 8- to 9-year-old boys and girls). This approach extends the existing assessment literature by the use of repeated measurement and single-subject experimental design. Data from these assessments were analyzed to determine if clear and informative outcomes were obtained. Overall, three general patterns of results emerged. Some participants showed differentiated deviant arousal or higher levels of arousal to specific inappropriate stimuli (deviant is a term used in the existing sex-offender literature to describe this type of arousal). Other participants showed undifferentiated deviant arousal, in which case they showed nonspecific arousal to inappropriate stimuli. The remaining participants showed no arousal to inappropriate stimuli but did show arousal to appropriate stimuli. Implications for assessment, treatment, and future directions are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Developmental Disabilities*
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Penile Erection / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Plethysmography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Offenses / psychology*