Date of Award

January 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Karyn Plumm


Sex offender policy, treatment, and public perception are greatly intertwined in the numerous policies in place regarding sex offenders. These policies tend to reflect the underlying perceptions and myths about sex offenders than the reality of sexual offenses and treatment. These perceptions have also had a role in shaping psychological treatment of sex offenders through enacted policies and public support, or dissent, for community treatment centers, half-way houses, or residency restriction laws. With the sizeable potential impact of the public's perceptions of these issues, examination of their perceptions of sex offenders, sex offender policies, and sex offender treatment, and whether accurate information can change these perceptions, will offer valuable information for the future.

Two hundred sixty UND students were randomly assigned to 8 different groups receiving varying amounts of information on sex offender information, policies, and treatment to examine how receiving accurate information may influence their perceptions and understand of sex offenders and agreement with sex offender policies. Scales were created that reflected understanding of policies, policy effectiveness, treatment support, and support of punitive policies. There were significant main effects for policy information on understanding of policies and treatment support. Significant interactions were also found on the understanding of policies scale and support of punitive policies. There were also significant findings on the Positive and Negative Affect Scale for

statistics information indicating that providing statistics information to individuals may decrease positive affect. The findings indicate that providing individuals with information about current policies in place may be effective way to increase their understanding and support for policies and treatment methods, but the inclusion of other types of information (such as treatment information or statistics information) may lead to a more realistic assessment of their understanding.