Date of Award

Spring 6-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Forensic Psychology



First Advisor or Mentor

Elizabeth Jeglic


Studies suggest that about seventy percent of incarcerated sexual offenders have been diagnosed with a mental disorder, with about fifty percent meeting diagnostic criteria for a personality disorder. Personality disorders have been shown to increase the risk of recidivism in offenders overall. However, little is known about how a personality disorder diagnosis increases this risk for sex offenders. The current study aims to evaluate the prevalence of personality disorders in sexual offenders, whether this varies by offender type, and how these relate to recidivism risk. Archival records from a large sample of convicted sex offenders who were incarcerated in a state prison and released between 1996 and 2007 were examined to assess the prevalence of each of the ten personality disorders by sex offender type (rapist, child molester, non-contact offender) and how this relates to recidivism. The current study found that sex offender type was significantly related to a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder or borderline personality disorder. Offenders who committed adult sexual assault were most likely to have a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder; while those who committed both adult sexual assault and molestation of a minor child were most likely to be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. In addition, it was found that personality disorder diagnosis was not significantly related to, nor could it predict above the Static-99 total risk score, any type of recidivism. These findings are discussed as they pertain to the assessment and treatment of sex offenders with personality disorders.



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