Evaluating the factor structure and reliability of the Community Attitudes Toward Sex Offenders (CATSO) scale

DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/JCP-10-2012-0014
Pages115-126
Publication Date20 Sep 2013
AuthorLyn Shelton,Julia Stone,Belinda Winder
SubjectHealth & social care,Public policy & environmental management,Sociology
Evaluating the factor structure and
reliability of the Community Attitudes
Toward Sex Offenders (CATSO) scale
Lyn Shelton, Julia Stone and Belinda Winder
Lyn Shelton is a Forensic
Psychologist in Training, is
based at Psychology
Department, HMP Whatton,
Whatton, UK.
Julia Stone is a Forensic
Psychologist in Training, is
based at Psychology
Department, HMP Wakefield,
Wakefield, UK.
Dr Belinda Winder is a Reader
in Forensic Psychology at
SOCAMRU Division of
Psychology, Nottingham Trent
University, Nottingham, UK.
Abstract
Purpose – The study explored the factor structure and reliability of the Community Attitudes Toward Sex
Offenders (CATSO) scale. The study also included an impression management scale.
Design/methodology/approach – A total of 441 adults (134 male, 280 female, 27 ns) participated in this
study from three populations: staff at a category B prison (n ¼62), staff at a category C sex offender prison
(n ¼102) and staff at a UK university (n ¼248). Questionnaire packs included information/consent,
demographics, the CATSO and the Paulhus impression management scale.
Findings – Data were excluded where the Paulhus score was o1or412 (faking good/bad present).
Confirmatory factor analysis with alternative models indicated the scale did not meet any of the
requirements for an acceptable fit. Cronbach’s aconfirmed that two of the four sub-scales were not
internally consistent. An exploratory factor analysis was conducted following the removal of items with poor
item-total correlation and/or low/high facility index and, following parallel analysis, a revised two factor
solution was examined. The CATSO needs revision; it is unclear whether it is sufficiently reliable and valid
for use in the UK. The need for a valid/reliable tool to assess attitudes toward sexual offenders remains an
important goal for researchers.
Originality/value – Church et al. (2008) developed a scale (CATSO) to measure attitudes toward sex
offenders; the scale is being increasingly widely used across a range of populations, including the general
public and correctional staff. This research identifies significant problems with the scale in terms of factor
structure and reliability of the sub-scales. This paper advises a rethink of the CATSO by the scale authors
and suggest the scale is not currently useable.
Keywords Attitudes, CATSO, Factor structure, Psychometric, Sexual offender
Paper type Viewpoint
Introduction
The remit of this paper is to explore the factor structure and reliability of the community attitudes
toward sex offenders (CATSO) scale. The authors have reviewed research on attitudes to sex
offenders (ATS) and linked into therapeutic alliance and differences in staff attitudes. The
authors then proceed to explore briefly the history of measuring attitudes toward offenders,
culminating in a discussion of the CATSO scale.
There havebeen a number of research studiesthat have examined attitudes towardsex offenders
(Hogue, 1994, 1995; Hogue and Peebles, 1997; Church et al., 2008). Sex offenders have
previously been described by prison officers in the USA as being “more dangerous, harmful,
violent, tense, bad, unpredictable, mysterious, unchangeable, aggressive, weak, irrational, and
afraid” (Wee kes etal., 1995, p. 59) than non-sexoffenders. The media promulgatesuch attitudes,
typically brandingsex offenders as “‘monsters’, ‘beasts’ and ‘sexfiends’” (Thomas, 2005, p. 1).
Thanks to Church, Wakeman,
Miller, Clements and Sun for
permission to use and evaluate
the CATSO scale. Thanks also to
Paulhus for allowing us to use the
Paulhus impression management
scale. Special thanks to Dr Belinda
Winder for her guidance and
support throughout this piece of
research. Acknowledgments also
go to Clare Breed as well as other
colleagues for advice and support.
DOI 10.1108/JCP-10-2012-0014 VOL. 3 NO. 2 2013, pp. 115-126, CEmerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 2009-3829
j
JOURNAL OF CRIMINAL PSYCHOLOGY
j
PAGE 115

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