Humanizing pedophilia as stigma reduction: a large-scale intervention study

Harper, C.A. ORCID: 0000-0002-3172-0129, Lievesley, R. ORCID: 0000-0003-4957-258X, Blagden, N.J. ORCID: 0000-0002-4037-0984 and Hocken, K. ORCID: 0000-0003-3516-3849, 2021. Humanizing pedophilia as stigma reduction: a large-scale intervention study. Archives of Sexual Behavior. ISSN 0004-0002

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The stigmatization of people with pedophilic sexual interests is the topic of growing academic and professional consideration, owing to its potential role in moderating pedophiles’ emotional wellbeing, and motivation and engagement in child abuse prevention schemes. Thus, improving attitudes and reducing stigmatization toward this group is of paramount importance. Prior research has suggested that narrative humanization – presenting personal stories of self-identified non-offending pedophiles – could be one route to doing this. However, this work has only been conducted with students or trainee psychotherapists, meaning the public generalizability of this method is still unknown. In this study, we compared two stigma interventions to test whether narratives reduce stigma toward people with pedophilic interests more effectively than an informative alternative (scientific information about pedophilia). Using a longitudinal experimental design with a lack of non-intervention control (initial N = 950; final N = 539), we found that narratives had consistently positive effects on all measured aspects of stigmatization (dangerousness, intentionality), whereas an informative alternative had mixed results, and actually increased perceptions of pedophiles’ levels of deviance. These effects were also still present four months after the initial presentation. We discuss these data in relation to ongoing debates about treating pedophilia as a public health issue requiring a broad societal approach to wellbeing and child abuse prevention.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Archives of Sexual Behavior
Creators: Harper, C.A., Lievesley, R., Blagden, N.J. and Hocken, K.
Publisher: Springer (part of Springer Nature)
Date: 29 October 2021
ISSN: 0004-0002
Rights: Post-prints are subject to Springer Nature re-use terms
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 21 May 2021 08:01
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2022 03:00

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