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Development and Initial Validation of Measures of Proximal Stigmas and Experiences of Discrimination for Minor Attracted People

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Stigma-related stressors are central to understanding psychopathology, distress, and coping in stigmatized groups; individuals who experience attractions to children are a highly stigmatized group. Currently, few validated self-report measures exist to assess stigma-related stressors in minor attracted people (MAPs) and the current research describes the development and initial validation of two measures of internalized stigma and experiences of discrimination. A sample of MAPs (n = 289; mean age = 31.8 years, SD = 12.2) was recruited online and completed a set of self-report measures assessing stigma-related stress, negative mental health outcomes, substance use, and coping. Exploratory factor analyses of the two newly developed stigma-related stress measures were conducted and convergent associations with other constructs were examined for validity evidence. Exploratory factor analyses indicated a two-factor solution to both the measure of internalized stigma and experiences of discrimination. The total scale scores and factors scores generally demonstrated the anticipated patterns of correlations with mental health concerns, distress, coping, and substance use. Clinical intervention with MAPs may benefit from an exploration of stigma-related stressors in clients’ lives to improve mental health outcomes. The relatively large sample that was recruited from multiple online forums is a strength of the current study. The use of a self-report measurement modality for all measures used in the study weakens that strength of the validation evidence presented here. These results provide initial validity evidence for the measures of stigma-related stress in MAPs and the promise of stigma processes in understanding negative outcomes in this population.

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  1. The term minor attracted person is used in the present article because this term is generally preferred by those who self-identify as being attracted to children. The term is more vague than the terms pedophilia and hebephilia, which refer to erotic attractions to prepubescent and early pubescent children, respectively, whereas minor attraction could apply to anyone who is sexually attracted to children deemed “minors” (i.e., those under the age of 16 or 18). This level of terminological precision may be unnecessary for current purposes and given the focus of the present article (i.e., stigma), using non-clinical terms favored by the individuals who participated in the research is appropriately respectful.

  2. Prior to running the factor analyses for both scales, diagnostics of the item data were conducted; the sample size was assumed adequate, assuming a wide communality spread, F2, and p/f ratio of 3 (n = 289, greater than minimum recommended sample of 160); there were no univariate or multivariate outliers; multivariate normality was present; collinearity/singularity was absent (individual items’ unadjusted squared multiple correlations ranged from .23 to 71 [PS-MAP] and .12 to 55 [ESSADS-MAP]); and the correlation matrices were factorable (KMOPS = 0.86, KMOESSADS = .75; 80% [PS–MAP] and 57% [ESSADS–MAP] inter-item correlations were > .30; inter-item partial correlation matrix showed marked decreases from zero-order correlations). All items of the PS–MAP and ESSADS–MAP had MSA > .60. These data suggest the suitability for conducting exploratory factor analysis.

  3. During model testing, two items were deleted from the scale, resulting in 11 items being included in the final scale. The item, “I’m worried to find out whether I like adults,” was removed due to a relatively low endorsement rate of 10%; small correlations with other scale items; relatively low adjusted R2 of .13 and communality of .12; and relatively low factor loading of .39. Conceptually, the content of the item may only be relevant for younger individuals who have not developed a sense of whether they are preferentially or non-preferentially sexually interest in children. The item, “Minor attracted persons only have sexual feelings toward children,” was removed due to low shared variance (SMC = .03) and not loading with the other items (loadings < .20). This lack of shared variance may not be surprising, as no other PS–MAP item assesses this kind of generalized stereotypic belief.

  4. Two items were removed from the item pool. The item, “How often have you heard that minor attracted persons are not normal?”, was removed because it did not display marked correlations with the other scale items, it had a low MSA (.46), the majority of participants (97.6%) endorsed the item, and when screening was conducted for factor unidimensionality, this item loaded onto a separate factor from the other items that loaded onto the Perceived Discrimination factor of the ESSADS–MAP. The item, “How often have you been sexually assaulted for being a minor attracted person?”, was removed because it had a low endorsement rate (< 10%), had a low MSA (.51), and had weak loadings with the factors (loading = .10).

  5. Cohen’s (1988) interpretative guidelines were selected because these are conservative heuristics, compared to some other interpretive guidelines (e.g., Hemphill, 2003). Conservative interpretive guidelines were selected as the correlations reported in Table 5 are between measures that likely share nuisance variance and are not correlations between a test score and an outcome variable. In Cohen’s guidelines, r ≤ .10 are “small,” rs from .30 to .49 are “medium,” and rs ≥ .50 are “large” in magnitude.


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This research was supported by funding from Public Safety Canada awarded to the first and second author. The funding sources did not play a role in the study design; in collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in writing this manuscript; or in the decision to submit this manuscript for publication.

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Correspondence to Ian V. McPhail.

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Research ethics approval was provided by research ethics boards at Saint Mary’s University and the University of Saskatchewan.

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McPhail, I.V., Stephens, S. Development and Initial Validation of Measures of Proximal Stigmas and Experiences of Discrimination for Minor Attracted People. Arch Sex Behav 53, 2123–2139 (2024).

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