First Advisor

Keith Kaufman

Term of Graduation

Spring 2021

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Applied Psychology






Sex offenders -- Public opinion, Sex crimes, Campus violence, Criminal methods, Factor analysis, Child sexual abuse



Physical Description

1 online resource (viii, 205 pages)


In this dissertation, I present three complete manuscripts. I utilize social and community psychological theory, as well as criminological theory to better understand those who perpetrate sexual violence in two domains: child sexual abuse and college campus sexual assault. All three studies are conducted with an eye toward the prevention of sexual violence. In the first study, I conduct a complete psychometric analysis of the Modus Operandi Questionnaire, a comprehensive quantitative tool that examines offending patterns and tactics of those who commit child sexual abuse (Chapter II). An updated factor structure for this tool is presented, as well as recommendations for future use for both researchers and treatment providers. One finding of note is that particularly violent tactics are rarely used by offenders, who instead opt for more subtle, manipulative grooming tactics. This defies common beliefs and perceptions about offenders. Therefore, the second study I present examines how policy and media have impacted public perceptions of sexual offenders (Chapter III). This systematic literature review supports a cyclical relationship between myths about offenders, policy, and media, which leads to a false understanding about the nature of sexual assault. Finally, I conduct a third study which aims to understand if myths about sexual offending and offenders extend to a campus setting (Chapter IV). This vignette-based experiment manipulates both the student status of the offender and the type of sexual assault committed to see if perceptions of deserved punishment and blame attribution shift. Results show no differences between perceptions of student and non-student offenders, suggesting that myths about offenders do span across context.


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Persistent Identifier

Included in

Psychology Commons