School of Behavioral Sciences
Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling (EdD)
childhood sexual abuse, pedophilia, personality traits, child molester, personality disorders
Davis, Julianna Emma, "The Influence of Personality on the Experiences of Child Molesters: A Phenomenological Study" (2023). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 4447.
The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe different personality traits and pathologies that are common to each of the two identified types of child molester, report how personality played a part in the offense committed, and describe the results from the offender’s point of view. The history of personality traits and disorders is discussed; this information can be useful in the identification of sexual preferences involving those who abuse children. The study involved eight convicted child molesters in the state of Alabama. The participants were grouped into subtype based on self-report measures and public records. Costa and McCrae’s (1995) five-factor model of personality is a globally accepted description of personality traits and was used to guide this study. A scale of the subjects’ perceived personality traits and interview questions were administered to obtain the participants’ opinions about how their personality traits influenced their act of sexually offending against a child . The results found that the participants perceived the positive aspects of their personality traits more readily than the negative. The participants also showed a lack of congruence between the perception of their personality traits and expressed thoughts and behaviors. The participants as a group felt that their personality traits had little influence on their actions of sexually abusing a child. The participants expressed some common attitudes towards their victims and common justifications for their actions. Implications for further research include further personality testing for the different types of child molesters, prevention efforts and treatment efforts are discussed as well.