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Executive Function Profiles of Pedophilic and Nonpedophilic Child Molesters

  • Angela Eastvold (a1), Yana Suchy (a2) and Donald Strassberg (a2)


There is increasing evidence of neurocognitive dysfunction among child molesters, supporting the notion of brain anomalies among pedophiles. However, approximately half of child molesters are not pedophilic (i.e., are not primarily attracted to children), and neurocognitive differences between pedophilic (PED) and nonpedophilic (NPED) child molesters are not well understood. The purpose of this study was to assess neurocognition, specifically executive functioning (EF), among phallometrically defined PED and NPED child molesters, relative to nonsexual offenders (NSO). Participants (N = 89) were compared on seven EF domains. Results revealed that (a) child molesters exhibited an overall executive profile that was different from that of NSOs, with PEDs differing from NSOs but not from NPEDs; (b) child molesters on the whole performed better than NSOs on abstract reasoning and more poorly on inhibition; and (c) PEDs performed better than NPEDs on planning and exhibited better overall performance accuracy relative to NPEDs. These results suggest that PEDs exhibit a more deliberate, planful response style characterized by greater self-monitoring; whereas NPEDs appear to respond more impulsively. The current report further elucidates neurocognition among child molesters and highlights the need for future research examining subtypes of child molesters. (JINS, 2011, 17, 295–307)


Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to: Angela Eastvold, PhD, James Haley Veteran's Administration, Mental Health & Behavioral Sciences, 116B, 13000 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Tampa, FL 33612. E-mail:


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