Inhibiting Sexual Arousal to Children: Correlates and Its Influence on the Validity of Penile Plethysmography Journal Articles uri icon

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  • The current study examined the extent to which 1136 men were able to inhibit their sexual arousal on a phallometric assessment, when instructed to do so. Although the observed changes between the two conditions (i.e., Normal and Suppression) were small to moderate in magnitude, the change was not more than what would be expected by measurement error for most participants (e.g., 83% of pedophilic sex offenders against children did not successfully inhibit their sexual arousal in the Suppression condition). There were very few variables that were associated with the ability to suppress. Higher Pedophilia Index scores in the Suppression condition predicted a greater likelihood of sexual recidivism among sex offenders (hazard ratio¬†=¬†1.17, 95% CI [1.04, 1.32]), but the ability to suppress sexual arousal was not found to predict sexual recidivism. The current study highlights the importance of accounting for measurement error and found that, when doing so, most sex offenders against children are unable to successfully inhibit their sexual arousal to children when instructed to do so, and that the ability to suppress sexual arousal is not associated with recidivism.


  • Babchishin, Kelly M
  • Curry, Susan D
  • Fedoroff, J Paul
  • Bradford, John
  • Seto, Michael C

publication date

  • April 2017