The plethysmograph reconsidered: comments on Barker and Howell [comment].
W. T. Simon and P. G. Schouten,
Bull. Amer. Acad. Psychiatry & the Law
21(4): 505-12, 1993.
In their recent paper, Barker and Howell reviewed some of the more recent literature on the
reliability and validity of the penile plethysmograph in the assessment of male sex offenders.
Although Barker and Howell recognized that the test has not been standardized and that the results
are susceptible to faking, they nevertheless maintained that the plethysmograph is useful in the
evaluation and treatment of sex offenders. Our own analysis suggests that the standardization and
faking issues, as well as other problems not addressed in the Barker and Howell paper, warrant much
more guarded conclusions about the use of the plethysmograph in legal and clinical settings.