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

Lyn Shelton (Forensic Psychologist in Training, based at Psychology Department, HMP Whatton, Whatton, UK)
Julia Stone (Forensic Psychologist in Training, based at Psychology Department, HMP Wakefield, Wakefield, UK)
Belinda Winder (Reader in Forensic Psychology at SOCAMRU Division of Psychology, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK)

Journal of Criminal Psychology

ISSN: 2009-3829

Article publication date: 20 September 2013

412

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=62), staff at a category C sex offender prison (n=102) and staff at a UK university (n=248). Questionnaire packs included information/consent, demographics, the CATSO and the Paulhus impression management scale.

Findings

Data were excluded where the Paulhus score was <1 or >12 (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 α confirmed 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

Citation

Shelton, L., Stone, J. and Winder, B. (2013), "Evaluating the factor structure and reliability of the Community Attitudes Toward Sex Offenders (CATSO) scale", Journal of Criminal Psychology, Vol. 3 No. 2, pp. 115-126. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCP-10-2012-0014

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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