Academic journal article International Journal of Cyber Criminology

Individual Differences of Internet Child Pornography Users: Peculiar Findings in a Community-Based Study

Academic journal article International Journal of Cyber Criminology

Individual Differences of Internet Child Pornography Users: Peculiar Findings in a Community-Based Study

Article excerpt


Technological advances, such as the Internet and peer-to-peer networks, continue to make it easier and perceivably safer for consumers to access the illicit materials. For instance, the United Kingdom's Internet Watch Foundation's Hotline (IWF, 2012) processed 39,211 reports of child sex abuse content online; 25% (9,702) of the reported cases were confirmed. 9,550 websites contained child pornography hosted on 1,591 domains worldwide and traced to 38 countries. 54% or 5,155 of these websites were hosted by North America. Finally, the number of child sex abuse images showing children under the age of 10 has increased from 74% in 2011 to 81% in 2012, respectively (IWF, 2012).

From a socio-cultural perspective, there is a detrimental separation between the social (norms, legislation) and environmental (computer availability) constraints of computer criminal behavior, which is a direct result of the globalization of technology. Despite national and international attempts at regulating child pornography (high social constraint), the low environmental constraint is a result of the ease of accessibility and availability of computers and the Internet. According to Bandura's Theory of Reciprocal Determinism, an individual's personality traits become important in predicting human behavior when environmental constraints are low (Bandura, 1986; 1994). The globalization of technology will continue to make it easier for individuals to engage in criminal behaviors involving computers, such as Internet child pornography. Still, even with the globalization of technology, only some individuals engage in Internet child pornography. Therefore, it is important to understand the personality and psychological characteristics related to Internet child pornography use.

Few research studies have specifically assessed the role individual differences play in the consumption of sexually explicit materials depicting children or adolescents. In a study conducted by Bogaert (1993), 160 male undergraduate students responded to personality measures then indicated their preference for various descriptions of sexual (violent sex, child sex) and nonsexual media themes in order to assess whether personality differences predicted their preference for certain types of pornography. Results suggested the individual differences that best discriminated the preference for child sex films from the other film categories were prior exposure to sexual media, aggression, and dominance (Bogaert, 1993). Although this study did not analyze Internet pornography specifically, it suggested individuals with a prior history of exposure to sexual media and higher levels of aggression and dominance are more likely to prefer child sex pornography themes (Bogaert, 1993).

Using a different population sample, Webb, Craissati, and Keen (2007) assessed the differences in personality profiles on the Millon Clinical Multi-axial Inventory-III (MCMI-III) for 90 men convicted of Internet child pornography offenses and 120 men convicted of child molestation. Results indicated there were no significant differences on the MCMI-III personality profiles between the two groups (Webb et al., 2007). Similar findings resulted when Reijnen, Bulten, and Nijman (2009) compared the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2) personality profiles of 22 Internet child pornography offenders with 47 other sexual delinquents and 65 nonsexual delinquents who were all receiving treatment from an outpatient forensic psychiatric department. Reijnen et al. (2009) reported the Internet child pornography offenders scored significantly lower on the hypomania scale compared to the nonsexual delinquents. The authors concluded lower scores of hypomania suggested the Internet child pornography offenders were less impulsive, thrill seeking, and extraverted when compared to the nonsexual delinquents (Reijnen et al., 2009).

One study in particular analyzed the personality characteristics of self-reported Internet child pornography consumers via an online survey where 277 respondents were classified as non-consumers of Internet child pornography, and 30 were classified as Internet child pornography users (Seigfried et al. …

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