An Internet Study of Men Sexually Attracted to Children: Sexual Attraction Patterns

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Abstract

To our knowledge, this is the first large study of the attractions of child-attracted men recruited in any manner other than their being charged with legal offenses. We recruited 1,189 men from websites for adults attracted to children. Men in our sample were highly attracted to children, and they were much less attracted to adults, especially to adult men. However, men varied with respect to which combination of gender and age they found most attractive. Men in our sample were especially attracted to pubescent boys and prepubescent girls. Their self-reported attraction patterns closely tracked the age/gender gradient of sexual arousal established in prior research. Consistent with the gradient, men most attracted to prepubescent children were especially likely to have bisexual attractions to children. Pedohebephilia—attraction to sexually immature children—is best considered a collection of related if distinct sexual orientations, which vary in the particular combination of gender and sexual maturity that elicits greatest sexual attraction. Finally, our study reveals the potential power and efficiency of studying highly cooperative child-attracted men recruited via the Internet.

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