alexa Diagnostic accuracy of eye movements in assessing pedophilia.


Journal of Forensic Psychology

Author(s): Fromberger P, Jordan K, Steinkrauss H, von Herder J, Witzel J,

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Abstract INTRODUCTION: Given that recurrent sexual interest in prepubescent children is one of the strongest single predictors for pedosexual offense recidivism, valid and reliable diagnosis of pedophilia is of particular importance. Nevertheless, current assessment methods still fail to fulfill psychometric quality criteria. AIMS: The aim of the study was to evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of eye-movement parameters in regard to pedophilic sexual preferences. METHOD: Eye movements were measured while 22 pedophiles (according to ICD-10 F65.4 diagnosis), 8 non-pedophilic forensic controls, and 52 healthy controls simultaneously viewed the picture of a child and the picture of an adult. Fixation latency was assessed as a parameter for automatic attentional processes and relative fixation time to account for controlled attentional processes. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analyses, which are based on calculated age-preference indices, were carried out to determine the classifier performance. Cross-validation using the leave-one-out method was used to test the validity of classifiers. RESULTS: Pedophiles showed significantly shorter fixation latencies and significantly longer relative fixation times for child stimuli than either of the control groups. Classifier performance analysis revealed an area under the curve (AUC) = 0.902 for fixation latency and an AUC = 0.828 for relative fixation time. The eye-tracking method based on fixation latency discriminated between pedophiles and non-pedophiles with a sensitivity of 86.4\% and a specificity of 90.0\%. Cross-validation demonstrated good validity of eye-movement parameters. CONCLUSIONS: Despite some methodological limitations, measuring eye movements seems to be a promising approach to assess deviant pedophilic interests. Eye movements, which represent automatic attentional processes, demonstrated high diagnostic accuracy. © 2012 International Society for Sexual Medicine. This article was published in J Sex Med and referenced in Journal of Forensic Psychology

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