The Abel Assessment of Sexual Interest (AASI) is an objective psychophysiological measure of sexual interest in various potential sexual partners including males and females of preschool, grade school, adolescent, and adult ages. The client views numerous slides depicting both Caucasians and African-Americans in these gender and age categories. The client reports his or her degree of sexual interest in each slide. Outside the client's awareness, his or her viewing time of each slide is also being measured. The client's self-reported interest is compared to the objective measure of his or her sexual interest as indicated by the actual viewing time. The reliability and validity of visual viewing or visual reaction time has been established as a reasonably accurate measure of the client's sexual interests.
In addition to viewing pictures, the client completes a questionnaire that includes over 600 items. The client provides information regarding interest or behaviors concerning normal sexual behavior and many deviant behaviors, sexual affairs outside a committed relationship, use of pornography, and criminal sexual acts. The questionnaire allows the client to report specific information about the age at which any of the behaviors first began, the age when the behavior last took place, the number of victims involved throughout the client's life, and the client's report of how much control he or she has over that particular behavior. Items are included in the questionnaire that measure the extent to which the clients may be attempting to present themselves in an unrealistically positive light.
The results are sent to the Abel company for scoring. The scoring formulae are proprietary and have not been made public. The lack of specific information on how the various results are determined has been a criticism of the test, but repeated studies by persons with no affiliation to Abel have replicated the initial results. The client profiles can be useful in treatment planning, as well as determining the particular age and gender of persons attractive to the client. Many offenders who molest children do so “out of character,” or without a clear and persistent sexual interest in children. This information is also part of the analysis of risk for recidivism.
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