Assessment of implicit sexual associations in non-incarcerated pedophiles

Matthijs L. Van Leeuwen*, Rick B. Van Baaren, Farid Chakhssi, Marijke G.M. Loonen, Maarten Lippman, Ap Dijksterhuis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Offences committed by pedophiles are crimes that evoke serious public concern and outrage. Although recent research using implicit measures has shown promise in detecting deviant sexual associations, the discriminatory and predictive quality of implicit tasks has not yet surpassed traditional assessment methods such as questionnaires and phallometry. The current research extended previous findings by examining whether a combination of two implicit tasks, the Implicit Association Task (IAT) and the Picture Association Task (PAT), was capable of differentiating pedophiles from non-pedophiles, and whether the PAT, which allows separate analysis for male, female, boy and girl stimulus categories, was more sensitive to specific sexual associations in pedophiles than the IAT. A total of 20 male self-reported pedophiles (10 offender and 10 non-offenders) and 20 male self-reported heterosexual controls completed the two implicit measures. Results indicated that the combination of both tasks produced the strongest results to date in detecting implicit pedophilic preferences (AUC =.97). Additionally, the PAT showed promise in decomposing the sexual associations in pedophiles. Interestingly, as there was an equal distribution of offenders and non-offenders in the pedophile group, it was possible to test for implicit association differences between these groups. This comparison showed no clear link between having these implicit sexual associations and actual offending.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1501-1507
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Implicit associations
  • Pedophilia
  • Sex offenders
  • Sexual deviance
  • Sexual orientation


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