Pedophilia is associated with lower sexual interest in adults: Meta-analyses and a systematic review with men who had sexually offended against children

Authors Eveline Schippers, Wineke Smid, Larissa Hoogsteder, Vivienne de Vogel, Caroline Planting
Published in Aggression and Violent Behavior
Publication date 2023
Research groups Working with Mandated Clients
Type Article


Sexual interest in children is an important factor contributing to sexual (re)offending against children. The current state of research makes it difficult to conclude if people with pedophilia are overly interested in children, or have lower interest in adults, or both. This is relevant knowledge in treatment for preventing sexual (re)offenses against children. This study aimed to systematically analyze sexual interest in both children and adults in samples of men with pedophilia and comparison groups. A total of 55 studies (N = 8465) were included in four meta-analyses and a systematic review. Most included studies considered people who had sexually offended against children (PSOC; nPSOC = 5213). Results indicated that PSOC with pedophilia did not have a clear sexual preference for either children or adults. Compared to comparison groups, they had more absolute sexual interest in children and lower sexual interest in adults. We conclude that the lack of sexual interest in adults may be a relevant factor in PSOC with pedophilia. More studies are needed to disentangle sexual interest in children from sexual interest in adults, while using carefully matched comparison groups and appropriate research designs.

On this publication contributed

Language English
Published in Aggression and Violent Behavior
Key words pedophilia, sexual offenses against children, sexual preference, sexual interest, meta-analysis, systematic review
Digital Object Identifier 10.1016/j.avb.2022.101813
Page range 1-21