Some men convicted of sexual offences against children express an exaggerated affiliation with childhood, ascribe child-like characteristics to themselves, experience strong non-sexual liking of children, and hold positive views of children and childhood. These features are generally called emotional congruence with children. The present study examined child-like self-concept, which is an association of self with children and child-like characteristics, attitude toward children, and general emotional congruence with children as correlates of sexual offending against children and pedophilia. Male participants (18 sexual offenders against unrelated children; 7 incest offenders; 22 non-sexual offenders; 54 students) completed newly developed implicit and explicit measures of child-like self-concept and attitude toward children, as well as more established self-report measures of emotional congruence with children. Assessments of pedophilic interest and sexual recidivism risk were obtained from official file information. Sexual offenders against unrelated children reported higher levels of implicit child-like self-concept and self-reported emotional congruence with children when compared to the other three groups. Implicit child-like self-concept showed a small correlation with emotional congruence measures, whereas implicit attitude toward children was moderately correlated with the emotional congruence measures. Implicit child-like self-concept, implicit attitude toward children, and the emotional congruence measures were associated with greater pedophilic interest and sexual recidivism risk. The present findings provide a nuanced understanding of the emotional congruence with children construct and have implications for theory, research, and treatment of sexual offenders against children.

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Archives of Sexual Behavior
Department of Psychology

McPhail, I.V. (Ian V.), Nunes, K, Hermann, C.A. (Chantal A.), Sewell, R. (Rikki), Peacock, E.J. (Edward J.), Looman, J. (Jan), & Fernandez, Y.M. (Yolanda M.). (2018). Emotional Congruence with Children: Are Implicit and Explicit Child-Like Self-Concept and Attitude Toward Children Associated with Sexual Offending Against Children?. Archives of Sexual Behavior. doi:10.1007/s10508-018-1288-2