A comparative study of personality, sexual arousal, and behavior exchange in biological and nonbiological incestuous fathers

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Counseling Psychology

First Committee Member

Robin A. Buhrke - Committee Chair


The primary purpose of this study was to examine whether biological and nonbiological incestuous fathers differ on personality characteristics, sexual arousal patterns, and behavior exchange in intimate relationships. Secondarily, this study examined internal consistency and test-retest reliability for responses by child molesters to a set of commercially available 35mm stimulus slides used for the phallometric assessment of sexual arousal related to age preference.Data were collected from a sample of 60 incestuous fathers who were court ordered into treatment in one of three outpatient sex offender treatment programs in the Miami area. These participants were assigned to one of two groups based upon their relationship to their victims. Biological incestuous fathers comprised one group, while the other group was comprised of incestuous stepfathers, adoptive fathers, foster fathers, and men who had molested daughters of their live-in female partners.All 60 participants completed the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory II and the Behavior Exchange Inventory. In addition, 16 participants, 8 from each group, took part in a sexual arousal assessment using a penile plethysmograph, in response to 35mm slides of nude females in 5 age categories. Of those 16 participants, 6 were retested using the penile plethysmograph after a 4-month period.Procedures for testing the major hypotheses included a stepwise discriminant analyses and an analysis of variance. None of the behavior exchange scales significantly discriminated between the two groups. Significant personality differences were observed, with nonbiological incestuous fathers scoring significantly higher on the aggressive/sadistic, narcissistic, antisocial, passive-aggressive, and self-defeating scales. While neither group demonstrated sexual arousal to sexually immature children, the group of biological fathers showed significantly more arousal to 16-year-old girls and adults than did the group of nonbiological fathers. Internal consistency coefficients were consistently high. Moderate test-retest correlations existed for the 8-year-old, 12-year-old, 16-year-old, and adult slides.It was suggested that the traditional definition of incest is insufficient. It was further suggested that nonbiological incestuous fathers may be more difficult to treat than biological incestuous fathers.


Psychology, Clinical; Psychology, Personality

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