Publication Date

Summer 2017

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Frederick Grieve (Director), Dr. Sally Kuhlenschmidt, and Dr. Reagan Brown

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Researchers vary on their definitions of paraphilia. A difference exists between an individual possessing a paraphilia versus an individual possessing a paraphilic disorder. Hanson (2010) proposed a dimensional model of sexual deviance that includes a measure of intensity. However, research on sexual intensity has been lacking. A majority of existing research focuses on the potential risk factors of possessing a paraphilia or paraphilic disorder (e.g., criminality). There is less focus on whom in the population has the potential to develop a paraphilia; or which factors predict paraphilic behavior.

The Big Five personality factors (openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism), obsessive-compulsive behavior, and sexual fantasy (exploratory, intimacy, impersonal, and sadomasochism) were used to predict paraphilic intensity using the Edwards Paraphilic Inventory (EPI). Surveys were placed on Amazon Mechanical Turk (n = 100), the Celebrity Feet in the Pose website (via, and its social media (n = 163) to reach a total of 263 participants.

Results indicated that obsessive-compulsive behavior, sadomasochism, and agreeableness significantly predicted the level of paraphilic intensity. Such findings support that paraphilic disorders are likely obsessive-compulsive in nature. Furthermore, agreeableness and paraphilic intensity were negatively correlated. This suggests that the lower the individual is in agreeableness, the higher the likelihood he or she falls on the paraphilic spectrum. Lastly, those who practice sadomasochistic roleplay in the bedroom are likely to report higher levels of paraphilic intensity.

According to the United States sample, 1 out of every 10 participants reported some type of paraphilic activity. Individuals who participated in the survey from the website self-reported higher levels of paraphilic behavior than those who completed the survey from Amazon Mechanical Turk. In addition, these individuals are represented in more than one paraphilic category. It remains unclear how large of a role pleasure plays in an individual seeking therapeutic or pharmacological help with paraphilic disorders. Pedophilic disorder was not examined due to ethical concerns with the United States and other various countries. Future research should examine education level and sexual orientation as predictors of paraphilic intensity.


Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Gender and Sexuality | Other Psychology | Other Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Sexuality and the Law