Berryessa, C. M. (2021). A dual-process approach to moral panic and public support for sex offender management policies. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.
The current study explores if and how dual-process thinking styles (System I/experiential and System II/rational processing) predict and explain the degree to which members of the public express moral panic toward and support for existing sex offender management policies (registration, notification, residence restrictions), regardless of their efficacy or effects on recidivism rates, for different types of individuals who commit sex offenses (sex offender, juvenile sex offender, cybersex offender, female sex offender, rapist, child molester). Online experimental methods were used with a lay sample (N = 324). Results show that the extent to which participants exhibited a reliance on System I processing significantly predicted their feelings of moral panic (concern, hostility, and volatility) toward individuals classified as child molesters. Further, feelings of concern, hostility, and volatility, as significant predictors of support for existing sex offender management policies for individuals classified as child molesters, were found to increase as a function of participants’ reliance on the System I, experiential thinking style. Implications of this work, specifically related to addressing public support for existing sex offender management policies for individuals classified as child molesters, are discussed.