Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 135–152 | Cite as

Normal responses to sexually anatomically detailed dolls

  • Brenda Dawson
  • Allison R. Vaughan
  • William G. Wagner


The behaviors and verbalizations of normal, preschool age boys and girls during interactions with sexually anatomically detailed (SAD) dolls were examined. A structured, nonsuggestive interview with each child was videotaped, and five behaviors and five verbalizations were coded for each of five phases of the interview. A two-way ANOVA (gender × phase) showed that during those phases when the dolls were undressed, both boys and girls showed more sexual exploratory play, aggressive behavior which was nonsexual, and active avoidance. Across all phases, nonsexual aggression accounted for 31% of the boys' and 22% of the girls' total responses. Behavioral and verbal sexual exploratory play represented 42% of the boys' responses and 50% of the girls' responses. In contrast, sexually aggressive behavior accounted for only 1% and 2% of the boys' and girls' responses, respectively. Girls interacted with the dolls more than did boys. Additionally, girls demonstrated more affection to the dolls than did the boys, and boys displayed more anxiety with the dolls than did girls. Investigators should be cautious as to inferences about preschoolers' interactions with SAD dolls, especially interactions of a sexual or aggressive nature which do not clearly depict fondling or intercourse.

Key words

child sexual abuse sexually anatomically detailed dolls child abuse normative data sexual abuse assessment 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brenda Dawson
    • 1
  • Allison R. Vaughan
    • 1
  • William G. Wagner
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Southern MississippiHattiesburg
  2. 2.Department of Counseling PsychologyUniversity of Southern MississippiHattiesburg

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