Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Cynthia Calkins

Committee Members

Elizabeth Jeglic

Philip Yanos

Georgia Winters

Anthony Perillo

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology


paraphilia, paraphilic, forensic


The paraphilias are among the most contentious diagnoses in contemporary psychological discourse. One of the major debates is over the extent to which paraphilic interests and behaviors should be considered “deviant.” To address this issue, extant research has examined the prevalence of paraphilic interests and their correlation with psychopathology. Though findings suggest that certain paraphilic interests are relatively common, existing data may misrepresent true prevalence rates due to racially and ethnically homogenous sampling. Additionally, though an association between paraphilias and psychopathology has been found in forensic and clinical samples, this relation may not generalize to all individuals with paraphilic interests. The current study expanded upon this line of inquiry by examining the prevalence (Aim 1) and psychopathological correlates (Aims 2 and 3) of paraphilic interests and behaviors in a diverse non-clinical sample. Undergraduate students (n = 423) completed measures of paraphilic interests, paraphilic behaviors, symptomatology, psychopathology, and social desirability. We hypothesized that the majority of participants would endorse at least one paraphilic interest and one paraphilic behavior, that men would endorse paraphilic interests/behaviors more frequently than women, trans and non-binary participants, and that paraphilic interest/behavior scores would be positively associated with symptomatology scores. Additionally, exploratory analyses examined the associations between paraphilic interests/behaviors and lifetime psychological diagnoses, as well as the correlates of paraphilic-related impairment and distress. Overall, the majority of participants endorsed at least one paraphilic interest and behavior, with women and trans/non-binary participants endorsing interests and behaviors more frequently than men. Participants who endorsed having any paraphilic interests/behaviors had higher overall symptomatology, anxiety, depression, and substance use scores than participants who did not endorse any paraphilic interests/behaviors. Results also illuminated significant associations between certain paraphilic categories and specific psychological symptoms. Theoretical, conceptual, and clinical implications of these and other findings are discussed.