Disgust among people who use child pornography.
Type of content
How can some people use child pornography, when most find it disgusting and aversive? The current study explored this question by looking at whether people who use child pornography are less sensitive to disgust than people who don’t use child pornography. In addition, variables such as contact offending-related behaviour, fantasy, adult pornography use onset and frequency, childhood sexual abuse, hypersexuality, child pornography use onset and frequency, severity of content, cognitive distortions and age preference were examined in relation to disgust and the use of child pornography. A community sample of people who used child pornography were recruited online, and completed an anonymous survey. Comparison group participants who had never used child pornography but reported using adult pornography were recruited on Prolific. Results suggest that study group participants are less sensitive to sexual and pathogen disgust than comparison, but not moral disgust. The salience of attitudes supportive of child sexual abuse among study group participants may explain the lack of significant differences in moral disgust between groups, as cognitive distortions permit the user to appraise the use of child pornography as justified or acceptable. Early and frequent exposure to adult pornography may have also influenced perceptions of what is and isn’t disgusting or morally wrong, and facilitated the use of child pornography. Findings increase understanding of non-forensic samples of child pornography users, and the role that disgust plays in harmful sexual behaviour against children. Due to the exploratory nature of the study, future research should seek to replicate findings.