Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Abnorm Psychol. 2012 Aug;121(3):739-53. doi: 10.1037/a0028714. Epub 2012 Jun 18.

The sexual responses of sexual sadists.

Author information

Integrated Forensic Program, Royal Ottawa Health Care Group, Brockville, Ontario, Canada.


On average, rapists show greater relative genital responses to rape stories than do nonrapists in the laboratory. It has been suggested that this robust group difference is explained by the fact that many rapists are sexually sadistic. It is not clear, however, what the critical cues underlying rapists' genital responses are, because rape stories used in previous research include a mix of sadistic cues of violence and victim injury as well as cues of victim resistance and nonconsent. The present study was conducted to identify the critical cues producing self-identified sadists' sexual responses, and thereby to test sexual sadism as an explanation of rapists' arousal pattern. The present study was also conducted to develop a new phallometric test for sexual sadism for research and clinical applications, given evidence of poor diagnostic reliability and validity. Eighteen self-identified male sadists, 22 men with some sadistic interests who did not meet all of our sadist criteria, and 23 nonsadists (all recruited from the community) were compared in their genital and subjective responses to a new set of stories that disentangle violence/injury cues from resistance/nonconsent cues. The three groups differed in both their genital and subjective responses: using indices of relative responding, sadists responded significantly more to cues of violence/injury than nonsadists and men with some sadistic interests. The group difference for cues of nonconsent was not significant. The results suggest that sexual sadism primarily involves arousal to violence/injury in a sexual context rather than resistance/nonconsent.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for American Psychological Association
    Loading ...
    Support Center