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Evidence of Construct Validity in the Assessment of Hebephilia

Abstract

Hebephilia refers to a persistent intense sexual interest in pubescent children. Although not as widely studied as pedophilia, studies of hebephilia have indicated convergence in self-report and sexual arousal. The present study expanded on previous work by examining convergent and divergent validity across indicators of hebephilia that included self-report, sexual behavior, and sexual arousal in a sample of 2238 men who had sexually offended. We included men who denied such interest and specifically examined the overlap between hebephilia and pedophilia and examined pedohebephilia (i.e., sexual interests in both prepubescent and pubescent children). Results indicated that there was considerable convergence across indicators of hebephilia. The results suggested poor divergent validity between hebephilia and pedophilia, as there was substantial overlap between the two constructs across analyses. Finally, a distinct pattern of sexual arousal was found in offenders with pedohebephilia. The results of the present study were discussed with a focus on implications for the assessment of sexual interest in children and the conceptualization of pedohebephilia.

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Acknowledgements

The present study is part of the first author’s dissertation, and parts of the article are included in the dissertation (Ph.D. by publication). Portions of this article were presented at the annual conferences of the Association for Treatment of Sexual Abusers (2015, October), Puzzles of Sexual Orientation Conference (2015, July), and the American Psychology and Law Society (2016, March). This research was supported by a Predoctoral Research Grant from the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers and graduate fellowship funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council awarded to the first author.

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Correspondence to Skye Stephens.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Stephens, S., Seto, M.C., Goodwill, A.M. et al. Evidence of Construct Validity in the Assessment of Hebephilia. Arch Sex Behav 46, 301–309 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-016-0907-z

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Keywords

  • Hebephilia
  • Pedophilia
  • Paraphilias
  • Erotic-age interest
  • DSM-5