Monday, August 29, 2011

What works with sex offenders?

ResearchBlogging.orgMarnie Rice and Grant Harris have a review article in the May issue of Psychology, Public Policy, and Law on androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) and its use to control the sexual behaviors of sex offenders. The big conclusion from the article is, unfortunately, that there just isn't enough quality research (i.e., no randomized blind trials) to say whether ADT actually has any effect on sexual behavior, let alone things like health effects.
What was more interesting to me, however, was a brief history of eunuchs that the authors included. My understanding of eunuchs was apparently way off-base. For instance:
"Throughout the Greek and Roman empires, 'clearly eunuchs were widely perceived as neither chaste nor celibate, but highly sexual and sexed beings' and 'The reputation of eunuch sexual promiscuity extended to include giving sexual pleasure to their mistresses'...
And about the Italian perma-soprano Castrati, who had their testicles removed prior to puberty to preserve their high-pitched voices:
"Most could, and many apparently did, experience virtually normal sexual relations, being capable of erection and the emission of prostatic fluid(Barbier, 1996). Many Castrati were celebrities pursued as sexual partner by women (Aucoin & Wassersug, 2006)."
So simply cutting off a man's testicles (and even sometimes the penis, in part or in whole) is not necessarily enough to curtail sexual desire, nor sexual activity. Involuntary castrations are relatively rare in the US, while so-called "chemical castrations" are more widely used, but considering the history of eunuchs (as well as a few case studies described by the authors), any described dampening of libido linked to ADT may simply be expectation effects -- "knowing" what's going to happen can make it come true.

Marnie E. Rice, Grant T. Harris (2011). Is Androgen Deprivation Therapy effective in the treatment of sex offenders? Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 17 (2), 315-332

Friday, August 19, 2011

Talking Theory -- Slide post

ResearchBlogging.orgI recently gave an informal talk which focused on a recent special issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science (Vol. 6(2), March 2011). In it, I summarize and discuss five papers that each raise issues with and make suggestions for the current processes of theory construction in psychology. I'm putting the slides here without much explanation, but I'll say that there's a significant amount of my own editorializing in the "Conclusion" sections.

Fiedler, K. (2011). Voodoo Correlations Are Everywhere--Not Only in Neuroscience Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6 (2), 163-171 DOI: 10.1177/1745691611400237

Meiser, T. (2011). Much Pain, Little Gain? Paradigm-Specific Models and Methods in Experimental Psychology Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6 (2), 183-191 DOI: 10.1177/1745691611400241

Garcia-Marques, L., & Ferreira, M. (2011). Friends and Foes of Theory Construction in Psychological Science: Vague Dichotomies, Unified Theories of Cognition, and the New Experimentalism Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6 (2), 192-201 DOI: 10.1177/1745691611400239

Houwer, J. (2011). Why the Cognitive Approach in Psychology Would Profit From a Functional Approach and Vice Versa Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6 (2), 202-209 DOI: 10.1177/1745691611400238

Hahn, U. (2011). The Problem of Circularity in Evidence, Argument, and Explanation Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6 (2), 172-182 DOI: 10.1177/1745691611400240