Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Robert Brashear


Major contributors in the field of child sexual abuse have agreed that sex offenders who sexually abuse children are not primarily motivated by sexual desire and have proposed that the simultaneous satisfaction of a number of psychological needs is the prominent motivation of sex offenders of children. Few attempts have been made to empirically validate the clinical and theoretical impressions regarding the psychological needs of this group using psychological measures designed to assess needs or motives.

The purpose of this study was to investigate to what extent the assumptions about the psychological needs of sex offenders of children would be supported when these needs were measured by a standardized objective psychological instrument that was based on a theory of psychological needs. The psychological instrument used was the Personality Research Form E (PRF-E) (Jackson, 1984), based on Murray's theory of manifest needs.

The sample consisted of 50 men, between the ages of 18 and 72, who were accused of child sexual abuse and who were evaluated as outpatients by psychologists with expertise in sex offender assessment. To be included in the sample, they had to be at least 4 years older than their victims and not been through a lengthy adjudication process. The offender group's PRF-E results were compared to those of the randomly selected PRF-E adult male normative group. Subgroups of the offender sample were also compared based on offense variables.

The sex offenders of children group's mean scores were significantly higher on the Abasement and Succorance scales and significantly lower on the Aggression, Autonomy, Dominance, Exhibition, Play, and Sentience scales when compared to the adult male normative group by t-test analysis. Chi-square revealed a significant difference on the Nurturance scale; the observed values were not normally distributed on this scale. Significance was determined at the.05 level.

The results of this study indicate that some of the psychological needs attributed to sex offenders of children as a group are supported by their measurement on the PRF-E, and that sex offenders of children as a group differ in need state patterns from a randomly selected group. Individual offender profiles varied from the mean score profile of the offender group.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access