Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Malcolm H. Robertson

Second Advisor

Dr. Chris Koronakos

Third Advisor

Dr. M. Michele Burnette

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Using anatomical dolls, the play behaviors of nine sexually abused preschool children (five males, four females), ranging in age from 3-5 years, were compared with nine preschool children with whom there was no suspicion of sexual abuse and who were matched on the basis of age, gender, race, family status, and socioeconomic status. There was no significant difference between the two groups on explicit sexual behavior (vaginal, oral, and anal intercourse with thrusting motions between the dolls or between the child and dolls and masturbation by the child). The groups were significantly (t (8) = 2.19, p < .05 ) different when behaviors with suspicious sexual implication were combined with explicit sexual behaviors. There were no differences between the groups on measures of aggression, anxiety, and nonsexual behavior. The occurrence of the suspicious sexual behaviors is discussed and reviews of previous doll research and physical evidence of child sexual abuse are provided.