FCRG member – Dr Ross Bartels – has just published a paper in Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment entitled “Assessing Sexual Interest in Children Using the Go/No-Go Association Test”, along with co-authors Prof. Anthony Beech, Dr Leigh Harkins, and Dr David Thornton.

The aim of this paper was to examine whether an indirect measure called the Go-No/Go Association Task (GNAT) is capable of assessing sexual interest in children. The authors found that men who have sexually offended against an extrafamilial child were faster at categorising child-related and sexual fantasy-related stimuli than adult-related and sexual fantasy-related stimuli (suggesting a stronger association between children and sexual fantasy). This pattern of responding was not seen in non-offenders or a group comprised of men with sexual offences against an intrafamilial child or against both adults and children.

Since individuals with extrafamilial offences tend to have a stronger sexual interest in children, these findings suggest that the GNAT is able to assess sexual interest in children. Moreover, the GNAT data correlated with the use of sexual fantasies about children in a manner that further supports this conclusion. Since the GNAT has some unique strengths as an indirect measure (e.g., it can assess single categories and absolute associations in addition to relative associations), this study provides preliminary support for the use of GNATs as a measure of sexual interest. Thus, with further corroboration, the GNAT may become a useful tool for both researchers and practitioners.

The article can be read here