Intelligence, Memory, and Handedness in Pedophilia

Cantor, James M., Blanchard Ray, Christensen Bruce K., Dickey Robert, Klassen Philip E., Beckstead Lee A., et al.
Type of WorkResearch Report - Abstract, Quotes and Comment

Abstract/Intro, some quotes, and a comment

* The article in PDF Format:

Abstract / Intro

A sample of 473 male patients with pedophilia (assessed by the patients’ sexual history and penile response in the laboratory to standardized, erotic stimuli) or other problematic sexual interests or behaviors received brief neuropsychological assessments. 

Neuropsychological measures included 

  • a short form of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale—Revised (D. Wechsler, 1981), 
  • the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test — Revised (R. H. B. Benedict, D. Schretlen, L. Groninger, & J. Brandt, 1998), 
  • the Brief Visuospatial Memory Test—Revised (R. H. B. Benedict, 1997), and 
  • the Edinburgh Handedness Inventory (S. M. Williams, 1986). 

Pedophilia showed significant negative correlations with IQ and immediate and delayed recall memory. Pedophilia was also related to non-right-handedness even after covarying age and IQ. These results suggest that pedophilia is linked to early neurodevelopmental perturbations.

Some Quotes

About the sample of 'pedophiles', cursive fonts by Ipce:
"In every case, the complaint concerned illegal or disturbing sexual behavior ...

"... we use the term sexual offenses to include charges, convictions, credible accusations, and self-disclosures of criminal sexual behavior ..."

From the Discussion:
"Other researchers have postulated that sexually offending behavior results directly from poor decision making or inability to control sexual impulses (...). This causal model is represented by the upper diagram of Figure 1. 

Any direct, causal connection between intellectual function and pedophilia, however, is implausible; 23% of the general population has IQs below 89 — the mean of the sample with pedophilia in the categorical analysis here — yet the vast majority of people, including the mentally retarded, do not have pedophilia. 

More plausible is the third-variable model (lower diagram of Figure 1), where a perturbation occurs in early brain development and causes each of the characteristics measured here: 

  • lower cognitive capacity, 
  • decreased rates of right-handedness, and 
  • pedophilic interest. 

The correlates, in this model, are markers associated with pedophilia, not causal agents.

These results indicated no specific pattern of cognitive weakness but suggest that people with pedophilia possess a broad cognitive deficit."

"... the involvement of decreased right-handedness establishes clear linkage between brain development and pedophilia and invites questions regarding whether these brain perturbations are alone sufficient to produce pedophilia or are a vulnerability that interacts with subsequent events. 

That is, it is possible that the evidence of perturbations in brain development reflects an early, nonspecific risk factor, or, alternatively, reflects an independent pathological process alone sufficient to produce pedophilia. The answers to these questions may, in turn, guide future efforts to detect and prevent the development of pedophilia."


By Frans E. J. Gieles, educational specialist, PhD,

The last words just here above tell us the aim of the research project described here above: "prevent ... pedophilia".

What is 'pedophila'?
A correct definition should say that it is a desire, a feeling felt by a minor-attracted person ('MAP'). It might tell also tell that there are 'OMAPs': offending MAPS and 'NOMAPS': non offending MAPs, just as there exist offending and non offending persons with any sexual orientetion.

The quotes given here above tell us that the sample named 'pedophiles' were offending pedophiles, or at least problematic pedophiles, found in clinics and prisons. Thus, the data and the conclusions refer to pedosexual offending, not to pedophilia itself, if correctly defined.

So, we may believe that offenders show some problems with cognition and impulse control, but not that pedophiles by definition have these problems.

More problematic is the way of reasoning that is followed:
(a) Pedophilia, here defined as pedosexual offending, associates with left-handedness.
(b) Left-handedness is supposed to be caused by pertubations in the brain before birth.
(c) Thus, pedophilia (as defened here) is also supposed to be caused by pertubations in the brain before birth.

This thus is, in my view, incorrect or at least problematic.
By the way, is left-handedness a distortion or a normal variant?
Moreover, can a process in the brain before birth be responsible for offending acts about twenty or more years thereafter? Between birth and offence a lot of factors have had there influence.

There is another problem, in my view.
The researchers gather neuropsychological data in the sample. This is logical within the neuropsychological model, way of thinking and reasoning, saying that neuropsychological processes cause the human behavior, thus the pedosexual offending behavior. In my view, this is a behavioristic view, seeing the human being as a behavioral being, and the behavior as caused by factors. This model is reductionistic, reducing the human to behavior, which in turn is reduced to be caused by factors.

In my view, a human is able to choose how to act, based on reasonal and emotional processes and chosen aims.
Thus, if I want to understand the acts of offending and non-offending peophiles, I will ask them questions about there feelings, motives, ideas and aims, in order to hear and understand their personal narratives, not their neuropsychological data.

My problems with the kind of research, reasoning and interpretatipons used in het research reported here above, are also decribed in my comment on

I may end my comment by referring to another aticle of James M. Cantor, here writing in 2004, in which he, in 2016, acknowleges the existence of the non offending pedophiles, alias the NOMAPs:

  • < >
    "Non-offending pedophiles are a unique population of individuals who experience sexual interest in children, but despite common misperceptions, have neither had sexual contact with a child nor have accessed illegal child sexual exploitation material. [...]
    These are individuals who experience sexual attraction to children but have no (known) sexual contact with a child, typically expressing the strong desire never to do so."