The endorsement of cognitive distortions: comparing child pornography offenders and contact sex offenders

Hannah Merdian, Cate Curtis, Jo Thakker, Nick Wilson, Douglas Boer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)


This study examined the endorsement of cognitive distortions in child pornography offenders (CPOs), using an established assessment tool, the Abel and Becker Cognition Scale. The scale was expanded to include cognitions specific to child pornography offending, extracted from Howitt and Sheldon's Children and Sexual Activities Inventory (CSA). Three samples of CPOs, child sex offenders and offenders with both offence types responded to the cognition items. An exploratory Principal Component Analysis suggested six main components of the scale. CPOs were significantly less likely to endorse these statements in general, and this was more pronounced on items that project blame onto the child or other people, describe a need for power and consider children as sexually active. The statements extracted from CSA did not differentiate between the groups. These findings are discussed under consideration of the relationship between cognitive distortions and contact sex offending, and in reference to the general criticism concerning the definition and appropriate measurement of cognitive distortions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)971-993
Number of pages23
JournalPsychlogy, Crime and Law
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


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