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Dynamic Factors of Sexual Aggression: The Role of Affect and Impulsiveness

Joana Carvalho and Pedro Nobre

Criminal Justice and Behavior

April 2013, vol. 40, no. 4, 376-387



Deficits in affective and behavioral regulation have been related to several forms of criminal behavior. The aim of the present study was to evaluate how the structure of affect (positive vs. negative affect) and impulsiveness (motor/planning vs. cognitive impulsiveness) characterize specific forms of sexual violence. In all, 32 men convicted of rape, 31 men convicted of child sexual abuse (Study 1), and 37 male college students reporting sexual violence against women (Study 2) were assessed according to the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) and the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11). Results (Study 1) indicated that negative affect and motor/planning impulsiveness characterized individuals convicted of rape with regard to the control group, whereas child sexual molesters presented significantly lower positive affect than controls. On the other hand, college students reporting sexual violence against women (Study 2) presented higher motor/planning and cognitive impulsiveness than the control peers but did not differ from peers in relation to affect. Data suggest that the three forms of sexual violence (rape, child sexual abuse, and sexual coercion among college students) may be related to different etiological pathways.




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