Meeting a person with pedophilia: Attitudes towards pedophilia among psychology students: A pilot study

Rebecca Heron*, Lena Schwiekert, Julie Karsten

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

6 Citaten (Scopus)
151 Downloads (Pure)


People with pedophilia (PWP) are highly stigmatized. Public opinion is strongly pre-consolidated – it is often assumed that every PWP commits child sex offenses. This presumption not only affects PWP negatively. Research suggests that this stigmatization may cohere with PWP actually committing child sex offenses. Various recent studies have investigated different kinds of anti-stigma interventions and their effectiveness. Direct contact to a PWP has not yet been investigated. The present pilot study aimed at finding out whether a dichotomous anti-stigma intervention can change psychology students’ attitudes towards PWP regarding perceived dangerousness, intentionality, deviance, and punitive attitudes. In a one sample pre-post design, we presented 162 students of the University of Groningen with both an educational lecture and direct contact to a PWP. Participants learned about child sex offending and pedophilia. Then, Gabriel, a PWP shared his experiences about growing up, coping, and living with pedophilia. Results of the one-sample Wilcoxon signed-rank test revealed significantly diminished negative attitudes towards PWP after the intervention. Students perceived PWP as less dangerous, having less intent, and being less psychologically deviant. Additionally, students’ punitive attitudes towards PWP diminished significantly. Also, a thematic analysis revealed that students were highly interested in the topic of pedophilia and greatly appreciative of Gabriel sharing his story. This pilot study was the first to provide evidence for the effectiveness of a combination of an educational lecture and direct contact to a PWP as an anti-stigma intervention.
Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)1022–1033
Aantal pagina's12
TijdschriftCurrent Psychology
Vroegere onlinedatumfeb.-2021
StatusPublished - 2023


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